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Premiership players poised to break away from RPA and form new union

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It’s understood that professional players in England, including internationals, feel that the RPA is compromised because of its reliance on Premiership Rugby for funding. (stock photo)

It’s understood that professional players in England, including internationals, feel that the RPA is compromised because of its reliance on Premiership Rugby for funding. (stock photo)

It’s understood that professional players in England, including internationals, feel that the RPA is compromised because of its reliance on Premiership Rugby for funding. (stock photo)

England's Premiership players are in advanced discussions about launching a breakaway union after growing frustrated with the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) and its response to the global pandemic.

It's understood that professional players in England, including internationals, feel that the RPA is compromised because of its reliance on Premiership Rugby for funding.

There is also a sense of injustice that the RPA "have not turned up" to protect members since March, with the top clubs effectively "colluding" to impart blanket pay-cuts across the league and then choosing not to sign one another's players.

"Gloucester announced they were going to take pay cuts and all the other clubs followed suit to do the same thing," said one senior player from a Premiership club.

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Tantamount "PRL (Premiership Rugby Limited) is owned by the 13 clubs in the Premiership plus Newcastle Falcons and the clubs have colluded together to make the same cuts across the league, with Newcastle making 50 per cent cuts." He claimed that the decision not to sign one another's players was tantamount to "collusion or price-fixing".

Many players have now been furloughed by clubs under the UK government's coronavirus job-retention scheme, while Saracens have agreed pay deferrals for those earning over £75,000 (€85,000).

There have also been talks between clubs about lowering the competition's salary cap.

"The other issue we have as rugby players is that the RPA has no leverage to act on our behalf because they are funded by PRL," added a source. "Unless they can be a truly independent organisation, we have no representation.

"Until we can have a uniform response to all clubs, owners and chief execs that says: 'This is our stance', we won't be protected. They have closed the market, essentially, and they have done it because we have no representation." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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