THE chief executive of the Scottish rugby players’ association has said he is “extremely disappointed” by the way in which the SRU broke off negotiations about a programme of salary cuts after weeks of apparently cordial talks. While accepting the need for those cuts,

Bill Mitchell of Rugby Players Scotland is convinced that if the governing body had continued discussions with his organisation, his members would have a better understanding of how and why the process was being undertaken.

Mitchell’s aim when discussions began with the SRU was to try to preserve his members’ contracts as they stood. However, as it became clear that the coronavirus crisis could cost Murrayfield many millions of pounds in lost income, he agreed that cuts had to be made.

“While extremely disappointed that despite co-operating closely with the SRU we were not given the opportunity of contributing to the details of what is proposed, we acknowledge that the actions announced on Monday by the SRU represent a reasonable way to protect the long-term employment of our membership,” he said yesterday. “Along with all other national player associations RPS is very concerned about the uncertainty surrounding our sport.

“We have worked hard over the last few weeks to find ways of achieving long-term sustainability of employment for our members without impacting on incomes. However, we now acknowledge that the growing difficulty of implementing a realistic timetable for restarting global competition makes that goal impossible to achieve.”

Players will be consulted individually on the planned cuts to their salaries for the next five months. Those cuts will operate on a sliding scale, with the highest earners taking the biggest percentage cut and those earning below £50,000 not having a cut at all. All of the SRU’s playing staff, which includes the Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors squads, are being furloughed under the UK government’s job retention scheme.