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New Zealand’s top rugby players reach agreement on pay cuts

April 16, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2019, file photo, a New Zealand fan holds an All Blacks flag and cheers for his team ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan. New Zealand’s top rugby players have agreed to a 50 percent pay freeze as New Zealand Rugby contends with the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2019, file photo, a New Zealand fan holds an All Blacks flag and cheers for his team ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan. New Zealand’s top rugby players have agreed to a 50 percent pay freeze as New Zealand Rugby contends with the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2019, file photo, a New Zealand fan holds an All Blacks flag and cheers for his team ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan. New Zealand’s top rugby players have agreed to a 50 percent pay freeze as New Zealand Rugby contends with the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2019, file photo, a New Zealand fan holds an All Blacks flag and cheers for his team ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan. New Zealand’s top rugby players have agreed to a 50 percent pay freeze as New Zealand Rugby contends with the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2019, file photo, a New Zealand fan holds an All Blacks flag and cheers for his team ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup Pool B game between New Zealand and South Africa in Yokohama, Japan. New Zealand’s top rugby players have agreed to a 50 percent pay freeze as New Zealand Rugby contends with the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s top rugby players have agreed to a 50% pay reduction as New Zealand Rugby contends with the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association announced the agreement Thursday after protracted negotiations.

Under the deal, 50% of the payments anticipated this year to the All Blacks, members of the New Zealand women’s and sevens teams, and Super Rugby players will be withheld. The amount is worth about $15 million (NZ$25 million).

Some of that money will be released if play resumes this year in some form. If there is no further rugby in 2020 payments will be waived.

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The agreement applies to base salaries and some allowances and financial benefits.

“In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognized the need to act now to prepare the game and the players for this, even if there is every intention of doing all we can to avoid it,” NZRPA head Rob Nichol said.

The NZRPA said it sought an agreement that spread the financial burden fairly among all players. It said it wanted to protect those on retainers of $50,000 or less.

New Zealand Rugby previously had cut salaries to administrative staff and All Blacks coaches and management to leaven the blow from the current shutdown of professional rugby, including Super Rugby and test matches.

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