June 17, 2020 / 7:15 AM / 22 days ago

English players' union says new contract situation a 'circus'

(Reuters) - English rugby clubs are scrambling to amend contracts before a Thursday deadline in order to exploit a provision in new salary cap rules, with some players being told they have a day to sign a new deal, the chief executive of the players’ union said.

Premiership Rugby clubs voted last week to temporarily reduce the salary cap from the 2021-22 campaign until 2023-2024, with the ceiling for senior players set at 5 million pounds, down from 6.4 million pounds.

British media reported some players were being offered long-term deals on reduced terms as clubs look to take advantage of a provision that sees only 75% of the wages of a currently contracted player count towards the revised cap.

“It’s an absolute circus ... I’ve never known anything like it,” Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) chief executive Damian Hopley was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

“We have situations where players are being given contracts and told they have 24 hours to sign them. It beggars belief. We’re talking about the next three years of a player’s life.

“You’ve got young men, starting out their rugby careers, who are looking around thinking, ‘what have I signed up to?’. People talk about living the dream. I’m not sure there’s much of a dream at the moment,” Hopley added.

“If players feel the (new) offers are good offers and they want to take them, we’re saying ‘go for it.’ But this is about the hundreds of others who won’t be happy and feel pretty aggrieved at the absolute lack of process.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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