Coronavirus: UK-based Kiwi rugby players take massive pay cuts

Five of England's biggest rugby clubs have asked players and staff to take a 25 percent pay cut, with the 2019/20 Premiership season suspended for at least another month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday (NZ time), Gloucester, Wasps, Bristol, Worcester and Saracens all announced pay cuts, from April 1, up until Premiership rugby resumes.

With the league suspended indefinitely, clubs are not getting money from broadcasters.

All teams except for Saracens have Kiwis contracted to their teams, with Wasps and Bristol both having three former All Blacks on their rosters. 

"As a club and a business, we are having to make difficult decisions to navigate uncharted waters," said Wasps chief executive Stephen Vaughan. 

"Businesses throughout the world are being impacted and we are no different. We need to take significant action to reduce costs immediately and the impact of these decisions will be felt across the whole business. 

"I could not be more proud of the response of the players or their understanding and determination to help the club in such testing times. These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary and robust measures." 

Some lower paid staff members at Wasps and Worcester have been exempt from the cut, it has been confirmed.

"We have offered as much support as we can to any member of staff who may suffer particular hardship as a result," Worcester said in a statement. 

"We appreciate this is not an ideal situation for anyone but we hope that with the support of our loyal and dedicated staff in these challenging times we can manage our way through this period."

Former All Blacks first-five Lima Sopoaga.
Former All Blacks first-five Lima Sopoaga.

According to an ESPN report, just one of the Premiership's 12 clubs (Exeter Chiefs) turned a profit last year with the league's clubs making a collective loss of £50m (NZ$100m). 

The pay cuts came after the Rugby Football Union announced all rugby outside of the top-flight English premiership has been brought to an end as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Welsh, Irish and Scottish Rugby Unions following a few hours later.

Other Premiership clubs are in talks with their players over similar measures, but it's not just rugby where players have been asked to take pay cuts. 

On Friday, Scottish football club Heart of Midlothian said they were asking players and staff to take a 50 percent pay reduction, while Swiss club FC Sion sacked nine players who refused to sign an agreement for a wage cut during the coronavirus crisis.

Kiwis set to take pay cuts in Premiership rugby

Gloucester: Josh Honhneck, Willi Heinz (repersents England), Tom Marshall and Jason Woodward.

Wasps: Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Brad Shields (repersents England) Jimmy Gopperth, Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa.

Bristol: John Afoa, Jake Heenan, Steven Luatua, Charles Piutau, Pat Lam (coach).

Worcester: Michael Faialofa, Jono Kitto.