NZ Rugby instigates 50 percent wage freeze amid COVID-19

Rugby star mesmerizes again with another sensational throw (0:16)

Rugby star Quade Cooper shows off his throwing skills by tossing a football behind his back downfield to a receiver. (0:16)

New Zealand Rugby [NZR] has frozen 50 percent of player payments for the remainder of the year as the governing body gets to grips with the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association [NZRPA] on Thursday revealed that they had agreed to a raft of reductions for the professional side of the game in a bid to stay afloat in 2020.

From May 1, players with a base salary of more than $NZ 50,000 will have their retainers frozen by 15 percent with this increasing to 30 percent from September. Super Rugby players [including All Blacks], those involved in both the men's and women's sevens programs and members of the Black Ferns would all take a hit under the new arrangement.

Further reductions will include the freezing of team and tournament assembly fees; the freezing of contributions to the player savings scheme; the freezing of promotional payments and the vast majority of player incentives and reductions in other initiatives that are funded by the Player Payment Pool.

"Like most businesses, people are your greatest asset, and our staff and players are most certainly our number one priority," NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said. "We wanted to come up with solutions that worked for all our players and ensured that all sectors of our game were sharing in the financial pain we are currently enduring."

NZRPA boss Rob Nichol said players were prepared to do what they could do help navigate the crisis while also holding out hope that some rugby would be played later in the year.

"The players are committed to playing their part in ensuring the long-term future of the sport and to ensure the game best manages the financial implications of Covid-19," Nichol said.

"In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognised 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.

"As a result, we have agreed to immediately freeze approximately $25 million, or 50 percent, of the remaining forecasted player spend in 2020.

"In the event that this financial scenario eventuates, the frozen payments and benefits would become waived permanently. Alternatively, if professional rugby can resume and the financial outlook improves, then some of the frozen payments and benefits could be reinstated."