SA rugby players adopt collective voice on Convid-19 pay cut challenges

Warren Whiteley of Lions during the Super Rugby, #SuperHeroSunday match between Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks at Cape Town Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

South Africa’s professional rugby players and their employers are singing from the same hymn sheet during the Covid-19 crisis.

With job losses and pay cuts the order of the day elsewhere‚ South Africa’s players have voted for collective representation in Covid-19 cost-saving talks.

They will adopt an ‘injury to one‚ is an injury to all’ approach in their negotiations as the game continues in limbo indefinitely.

This follows the announcement by SA Rugby‚ MyPlayers‚ the South African Rugby Employers Organisation and Sport Employees Unite that a jointly-developed plan has in principle been formulated.

The player representatives were presented with an overview of the Covid-19 impact on the rugby industry – both locally and abroad – including the implications it has and might have for South Africa’s professional players.

The plan includes various measures to help mitigate the industry impact‚ which were discussed in detail.

“We have two options‚” said Stormers representative Chris van Zyl. “We can either let individual players negotiate about salary cuts with their respective employers.

“By doing so‚ we risk exploitation at the individual and group level; it will be time-consuming‚ and‚ ultimately‚ this could force unions and franchises into a financial position they may not recover from.

“Our second option is to have a collective voice at the table fighting our case while keeping the longer-term sustainability of the industry in mind.

“Given that‚ operating as a collective is the best option. These are tough decisions‚ but it’s what these tough times call for‚” said Van Zyl.

Last year’s South Africa and World Rugby men’s player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit also had his say. “It’s tough knowing we’ll probably have to make sacrifices‚ but if everyone in the industry contributes at the same levels‚ we’ll all get through this. We have to.”

Former Springbok captain Warren Whiteley said the players have for some time worked as a collective.

“We have moved mountains in recent years‚” he said.

“Covid-19 presents us with a challenge greater than any we’ve seen before. There are more than 700 professional rugby players in South Africa‚ and the survival of the industry should be our goal in dealing with the pandemic.

“However difficult these decisions are‚ I’m still confident that we’ve chosen the best route to do so.”

By: Liam Del Carme

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