England to have defined rest periods as part of new agreement with RFU

(Reuters) - England players will be entitled to two weeks of rest with their clubs following the Autumn Nations Cup, as part of improved welfare initiatives after they signed an elite player squad agreement for the 2020-21 season.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - England v Wales - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - March 7, 2020 England's Owen Farrell celebrates winning the match with teammates as they pose with the triple crown REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

A statement on the Rugby Players Association website also confirmed that England players will take a 25% cut to their match fees as part of the agreement with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to help the governing body deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Welfare measures include a week-long break after the Italy v England Six Nations clash on Oct. 31. A New Year camp has also been cancelled while players will get a week off during the 2021 Six Nations to replace a fallow week camp.

"I would like to thank the players and the RPA for their strong co-operation and collaboration which has enabled us to reach this new agreement," RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said in a statement here.

“This is a special squad of players and their appreciation and understanding of the difficulties being faced across the English game has led to this outcome.

“We are committed to ensuring the RFU runs a sustainable operation to safeguard the future of the game in England and are grateful to the England international playing group for their willingness to accept a reduction in fees over the next 12 months to support this.

“We are committed to looking after their wellbeing during this challenging period of fixtures.”

The players’ pay cuts are in line with the 25% reductions accepted by head coach Eddie Jones and his coaching staff.

In July, the RFU projected a short-term revenue loss of 107 million pounds due to the closure of Twickenham Stadium and also proposed making 139 positions within the organisation redundant.

The new eight-team Autumn Nations Cup competition will be held in Europe in November.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis