“Our Attitude Towards It Wouldn’t Change” – IRFU Warning To Players As Contract Talks Continue To Stall

Warning.

It’s going to be an interesting few months for Irish Rugby with some key players out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations yet to take place in any form due to the financial impact of the pandemic.

The IRFU’s recent annual report announced a deficit of €35.7million. Twelve months previously the Union had recorded its best-ever financial year, reporting a surplus of over €28m.

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Players and staff have been forced to take pay cuts and with contract negotiations still to come for a lot of players, further cuts could be on the way,

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora sat down yesterday for his annual report and said he ‘hopes’ that they will be in a position in the new year to open negotiations with their players.

“We would hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, and that we’ll be in a position just on the other side of Christmas to be able to hopefully have solutions that will enable us to start looking at our ability to sit down and contract our players going forward,” Nucifora said.

“I think the thing that we’ve had to do, the way any responsible business does, is look at the feasibility at where we’re going to be financially. It’s a really hard thing to predict in these times, with massive uncertainty. We had to make sure that we understood our financial situation before we entered into long-term commitments to the players.

“So understanding that situation and where we’re going to be puts us in a place to be able to make commitments that we can keep.”

“Obviously when we’re contracting one, two, three years out sometimes, building up those types of liabilities, we have to be sure on our ability to meet those commitments and I suppose it’s just about the business being responsible and making sure that we are in a position when we do enter into negotiations, we know exactly where we stand, and that anything we put on the table, we’ll be able to stand by with our players.”

With no certainty for players, it seems, interestingly Nucifora made it clear that Ireland will continue to overlook players who play their rugby outside of Ireland. A stark warning to players in a bid to keep them here, even though it might not make sense for them financially.

“We’ve got no intention of doing that at the moment,” Nucifora said of selecting players abroad.

“At the moment, the position we’ve been in, as we have been in all along, is if players choose not to play their rugby in Ireland, it’s unlikely that we would select them.

“It’s not a hard and fast rule. There is no hard and fast rule about that, we’ve never had one, but our attitude towards it wouldn’t change. We’d be selecting players who stay here and play for our provinces.”