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Fears over salary cap reduction may lead to player cull

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Fears over salary cap reduction may lead to player cull as Leicester Tigers remain caught up in a investigation after potentially breaching regulations

  • Premiership side Leicester are currently caught up in a salary cap investigation 
  • Spending limits and disputes between agents and clubs has left players worried 
  • This season the cap in the elite division has dropped from a basic £6.4m to £5m


While Leicester are caught up in a salary cap investigation, a major reduction in the spending limit and a continuing dispute between clubs and agents has left Premiership players fearing a jobs’ cull.

This season the cap in English rugby’s elite division has dropped from a basic £6.4million to £5m and at the end of the current campaign, the marquee player system is being halved so that each club can pay only one player outside the cap rather than two.

Much of the recent focus has been on how the cost-cutting measures are impacting on the ability of Premiership teams to compete in Europe and attract top foreign recruits.

Premiership side Leicester Tigers are currently caught up in a salary cap investigation

Premiership side Leicester Tigers are currently caught up in a salary cap investigation

However, the combination of tightening budgets and the ongoing pay dispute between clubs and agents is causing alarm among many players.

‘There are a lot of nervous people out there and the situation is very precarious at the moment,’ Damian Hopley, Rugby Players’ Association chief executive, told Sportsmail. ‘With a 28 per cent cut in the salary cap, as well as all the significant cuts which took place during the Covid lockdowns, there is concern among mid-ranking players that they could be culled as part of squad reductions.’

English professional rugby is in the grip of a perfect storm as the downturn in club spending has coincided with the dispute over agents’ fees. Players seeking assurances about their futures are not receiving them as contract talks across the Premiership have stalled.

Damian Hopley, Rugby Players’ Association chief executive, says players were worried

Damian Hopley, Rugby Players’ Association chief executive, says players were worried 

Meanwhile, England and Lions wing Anthony Watson (above), 27, is set to leave Bath when he is out of contract this summer but his destination is unclear

Meanwhile, England and Lions wing Anthony Watson (above), 27, is set to leave Bath when he is out of contract this summer but his destination is unclear

‘We’ve had this impasse between the clubs and the agents for the last quarter,’ said Hopley. ‘It’s like football — clubs are no longer paying agents because they say agents work for players so players have to pay agents themselves.

‘For months, there’s been a stand-off between the agents and the clubs and as time goes by players get more and more nervous — and clubs get more nervous about recruitment. ‘Ordinarily, most clubs would have done their recruitment by now. This is putting players in a really difficult position. We’re trying to find a way through.’

Meanwhile, England and Lions wing Anthony Watson, 27, is set to leave Bath when he is out of contract this summer but his destination is unclear.

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