Players braced for financial hit

Rugby players are fully aware there is going to be an impact on their pay packets, says the man who looks after their affairs.

The Super Rugby competition had been suspended and the three home tests in July against Wales and Scotland are on thin ice due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

With limited income coming in from broadcasters, as they have no product to show, and players still being paid, the financial crunch is coming.

New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association (NZRPA) chief executive Rob Nichol said the association and players were fully aware of what was happening and what needs to be done.

‘‘We are not naive. We know there is going to be commercial impact, and that we will all need to work together in dealing with that,’’ Nichol said yesterday.

‘‘At the moment we are focusing on all the different scenarios and what they mean financially. From there we can work out as a game how we move forward responsibly. The range of playing to not playing is massive, so can’t at this time say for certain what it will mean.’’

Nichol had been in constant contact with the players and was also offering support for wellbeing and mental health.

With the decision to open up the financial support package by the Government on Monday, New Zealand Rugby will qualify for assistance as an incorporated society. It can also call on significant reserves, but will be reluctant to delve too far into them.

All Black hooker Dane Coles said players had to accept there will be pay cuts.

Coles said players will be among those to take a financial hit out of necessity after rugby of any form was put back indefinitely on Monday because of Covid-19.

He said the players were resigned to spending time apart and to face the consequences of the sport’s stagnation.

‘‘It’s inevitable [pay cuts], and that’s totally understandable considering what’s going on in New Zealand,’’ Coles said.

‘‘Rugby players in New Zealand might have to prepare for that, but that’s just my opinion. You don’t want New Zealand Rugby to go under, it would be a bad thing. So hopefully the rugby players around New Zealand can do their part.’’

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said meetings this week will determine how his body intends to ride out a dramatic fall in revenue, which will inevitably entail dipping into its significant financial reserves.

Super Rugby teams are owned by private investors who are guarantors until the end of the season. Those investors will join crisis talks this week, along with the NZRPA and the country’s 26 provincial unions.

Robinson admitted as a high-profile public organisation, there would be a focus on NZ Rugby.

‘‘We know we’re going to pull out of this as a game and as a country. It’s just a matter of when, and that’s where challenges and things like anxiety and tension build, when we’ve got uncertainty like this.’’

— additional reporting AAP.

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