June 12, 2020 / 6:08 PM / 20 days ago

RPA hits back at Premiership clubs as pay row escalates

(Reuters) - The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) said on Friday it did not favour strike action, after Premiership clubs accused it of seeking to sow division by threatening such a move over the league’s plan to lower its salary cap.

“The RPA have never threatened strike action and would not recommend this as an appropriate course of action,” the players’ union said in its statement.

All top-flight clubs voted this week to temporarily reduce the league’s salary cap from the 2021-22 season until 2023-2024 with the ceiling for senior players to be set at 5 million pounds ($6.25 million), down from the current 6.4 million pounds.

However, that decision was taken without the approval of the RPA, who voted against a Premiership proposal regarding permanent pay cuts last month.

In a statement to The Times, the Premiership clubs accused the RPA of backtracking from initially deeming a 25% salary cut as “reasonable”, leaving the clubs with no choice but to act alone.

“The RPA urging players not to negotiate a compromise, privately threatening strike action and publicly opposing reductions without offering any feasible solutions has resulted in a predicament that suits nobody,” the clubs said.

As well as denying that it favoured a strike, the RPA said the suggestion that there was an agreement over permanent pay cuts was a “complete fabrication”.

“It is a sad day in the history of elite rugby that the game finds itself in this position,” it said in its statement.

“PRL and the clubs have decided to publicly criticise the RPA and, by doing so, personally attack players and their representatives.

The RPA has offered to go to independent mediation to resolve the matter.

($1 = 0.7997 pounds)

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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