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Gridlock in players' pay-cut talks

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Philip Browne

Philip Browne

SPORTSFILE

Philip Browne

Irish rugby's pay dispute remains at an impasse after a third round of talks yesterday between the IRFU and Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) failed to result in an agreement being reached.

It is understood that a further meeting between the two bodies will take place before the end of the week. The IRFU are hoping to further cut costs on the back of Covid-19 by introducing 20 per cent pay cuts for its players, whose representatives have been slow to accept such sweeping hits.

The pay-deferral scheme, which was agreed when rugby went into lockdown back in March, was due to end last night, but the disagreement between the union and RPI rages on.

A brief statement read: "Rugby Players Ireland and the IRFU jointly confirm that discussions remain ongoing. Both parties are still working towards a solution."

The IRFU has already imposed a four-day week on non-playing staff, equating to a 20 per cent cut in pay, and while they had similar plans for its players, a solution has not yet been agreed.

Irish rugby is counting the cost of the Covid-19 with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne repeatedly warning of the dire consequences caused by the pandemic. The union has agreed to open its accounts to RPI, who have employed Ciarán Medlar, a partner at accountancy firm BDO, to examine the numbers before a decision is taken on how best to move forward.

There is an acceptance amongst the players that pay cuts may be necessary, but RPI are keen to protect those on lower salaries, who would be badly impacted by such drastic measures across the board.

Meanwhile, Leicester have revealed the coronavirus pandemic has cost them approximately £5m, but have yet to provide an update on the contract situation of English international Manu Tuilagi.

With Welford Road out of action since, Leicester have estimated the impact of rugby being halted and believe up to 31 members of staff could be made redundant.