The Welsh Rugby Union has announced a pay cut for its players as the sport tries to deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Welsh rugby’s Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which represents the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regions - Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets, has reached agreement with the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) on proposals for a 25% salary reduction.
The cut will come into effect from the 1st of April and will run for the next three months.
However, and in line with the WRU's recent annoucement about its own full-time staff, the reduction will not apply to players that are earning £25,000 per annum or less.
The WRPA originally wanted to defer 25% of players' monthly gross basic salaries from April until August, with the deferred money then paid next year.
Instead the players' salaries will be cut by 25%, as is the case with Wales head coach Wayne Pivac and WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.
An official WRU statement reads: "In line with the WRU's recent announcement about its own full-time staff, the reductions will not apply to players earnings of 25k per annum or less, but each of Wales’ four professional regional teams – Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – will now make a vital 25% cost saving on any player salaries over that amount.
"Each of the regions have also applied percentage reductions across all full-time staff which is being managed locally to reflect the various business models across the professional game."
The WRU pays 80% of the salaries of the 38 top-ranked players, with the players' regions contributing the remaining 20%.
Salaries for players outside that top tier are paid for entirely by the regions.
Rugby at all levels in Wales has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic causing a huge financial impact and the independent chair of the PRB, Amanda Blanc, explained how they needed to safeguard the sport amid the current crisis.
"For our professional players in particular this has been a really tough decision, they are at the very sharp end of our business, but they are also our biggest cost," said Blanc.
"But they are in the midst of short careers, many in the prime of those careers and we are asking them to make a financial sacrifice that they won’t have planned for.
"We explored a range of options, including deferment of pay, but have agreed on a reduction once all the relevant information and scenarios were considered.
"They have accepted that this is being done out of necessity, because we want to be in position to immediately resume when current circumstances subside.
"We are extremely grateful to the WRPA and its members for their exemplary attitude during our recent conversations and are delighted to see our players continue to be an inspiration to us all.
"Clearly, with no sport taking place, income across the whole of Welsh rugby has dropped significantly and it is not clear when this might change.
"Not to act now would be negligent, given our shared goal is for Welsh rugby to remain intact when we emerge from this period."
The CEO of the WRPA said: "We have been involved throughout these difficult discussions.
"The WRPA exists to look after the welfare of players, but it is clear that extraordinary times call for measures such as those agreed this week.
"I can only say how proud I am of our members who from the beginning expressed a desire to do whatever was needed to help protect the game and their colleagues.
"Our Executive Committee and senior player group have worked around the clock to ensure we could find an agreement that will play a significant part in protecting the game
"All options were explored along this journey, and these discussions took place against a backdrop of other sports working their way through the same issues.
"We have a broad membership with players at different points in their careers and throughout we have looked to come to a solution that worked across the board.
"The players are well aware that sacrifices are being made across the country and are keen to do their bit so that rugby will be ready to go when this crisis passes.
"In a sign of solidarity for all our rugby colleagues all WRPA staff will also be taking the same pay cut."