Premiership Rugby salary dispute: Players must take responsibility, says Mike Tindall

Former England centre Mike Tindall says Premiership Rugby players have to “take responsibility” in the ongoing dispute over salary cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) refused to rule out strike action after top-flight clubs agreed a £1.4m salary cap cut for the start of the 2021-22 season, which followed the majority of top-flight players having agreed temporary 25 per cent pay cuts in March.

  • Prem Rugby clubs accuse RPA of ‘sowing division’
  • Premiership players may strike over salary cap reduction

However, Tindall believes a salary cap reduction was inevitable, with almost all Premiership clubs having been losing money before the coronavirus increased financial uncertainty.

“I think it had to happen,” Tindall told Sky Sports News. “I think what coronavirus has done is probably shorten the inevitable that was coming later.

“That report came out that said clubs had probably lost over £80m in the last two seasons – now that’s not a financial structure that would work in rugby, so something had to change.

“I think players have to take responsibility, and yes they should be making all the money as long as the clubs are viable and they’re not losing money.

“You’ve got to have a strong, healthy club if you want to have a strong academy and be able to bring players in, but they’ve got to be breaking even, and then the players get all the money on the back of that.”

Under the reduction agreement, it was stated the previous cap would be restored by the beginning of the 2024-25 season at the latest, with an earlier restoration possible if finances improve quicker than expected.

As well as casting doubt over the likelihood of a return to the current £6.4m cap, Tindall urged the clubs and Premiership Rugby to provide the players with as much information as possible to help find a resolution.

“Their openness and honesty with the players has to be at the forefront of everything so they understand the situation and then you come to an agreement off the back of it,” said the 2003 World Cup winner.

“I don’t see at the moment, that come the 2023-24 season, how they’re going to suddenly get it back up to where it is now.

“The problem is the clubs still at some point have to honour the contracts they have.

“It’s going to be messy whatever. I don’t know what the solution is.”

The dispute appears to have been exacerbated by ill-feeling between the bodies responsible for resolving it, with both the clubs and RPA appearing to be bypassing Premiership Rugby’s administrative arm, the RPL.

Premiership Rugby clubs released a statement on Friday accusing the RPA of attempting to “sow division and create uncertainty” with the threat of strike action.

The RPA responded by insisting it had “never threatened” strike action, and accused clubs of taking an “unreasonable approach” that will “cause substantial long-term damage to player and club relations going forward.”

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