RFU chief predicts pay peace after new England deal

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is confident the build-up to the 2015 World Cup will be free of pay disputes involving the England team after agreeing a new four-year deal with the players.

Ian Ritchie, Rugby Football Union Chief executive, speaks during press conference at Twickenham stadium in London on March 29, 2012. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is confident the build-up to the 2015 World Cup will be free of pay disputes involving the England team after agreeing a new deal.

The run-in to the 2011 World Cup was blighted by disputes between the RFU, England's national governing body, and the squad over their levels of pay, with some Test players threatening to boycott England's official departure dinner.

However, new RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie was determined to avoid a repeat of such bitter an protracted talks ahead of the 2015 World Cup in England.

Now a new deal agreed between the RFU and the Rugby Players' Association will run until 2016 and includes increased payments for squad selection, match fees, bonuses and commercial arrangements.

There are also particular clauses for the World Cup, a tournament England will be looking to win for the second time after lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy in Australia in 2003.

"To get this level of certainty up to and including the World Cup is a good thing," Ritchie said Wednesday. "The last thing we wanted was to wait years to sort this out and have last minute discussions.

"Clearly the players want to be satisfied there is a reasonable arrangement in place for the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

"There was a determination on both sides that we would do this positively. We have done the finances and now we can purely concentrate on the rugby."

He added: "I have no doubt about the importance of the relationship the RFU as a whole have with the players.

"That is the most significant part for me. It is right they should get a decent, reasonable financial recompense."

Ritchie labelled the latest agreement as "egalitarian" for acknowledging the squad nature of Test rugby, but would not discuss the exact figures involved.

However, the new deal is an increase on the match fee of pound sterling9,224 ($14,780) and win bonus of pound sterling3,075 ($4,917) that England players reportedly received for the 2012 Six Nations.

England begin this season's Six Nations at home to Scotland with a Calcutta Cup clash on February 2, having beaten world champions New Zealand last time out at Twickenham in December.

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Writer: AFP
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