New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is freezing $25 million, or 50 percent, of forecast player payments for 2020.
NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Player's Association (NZRPA) has agreed to change the payments of players that play at Super Rugby level, including All Blacks, the national sevens programme and Black Ferns.
The freeze covers the base salary of players, assembly payments and other incentives, as well as reductions in player-funded welfare and development activities.
The maximum retainer for a top Super Rugby player is $195,000, the minimum is $75,000.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said looking after his staff remains his number one priority.
"We wanted to come up with solutions that worked for all our players and ensured that all sectors of our game were sharing in the financial pain we are currently enduring."
NZRPA chief executive Rob Nichol said the players are committed to playing their part in ensuring the long-term future of the sport and to ensure the game best manages the financial implications of Covid-19.
"In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognised the need to act now to prepare the game and the players for this, even if there is every intention of doing all we can to avoid it.
"In the event that this financial scenario eventuates, the frozen payments and benefits would become waived permanently. Alternatively, if professional rugby can resume and the financial outlook improves, then some of the frozen payments and benefits could be reinstated," Nichol said.
NZR Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum added: "Our payment model is complex and it has taken time to determine a model that treats all players equitably.
"The model we have agreed protects those on retainers of less than $50,000. While not all players are being treated exactly the same, we felt these changes were the fairest way to address player payments and benefits, considering all the different ways our players are remunerated."
Nichol said in addition to consulting with players they have also ensured players have access to quality advice and support so they can act now to best manage the implications of these changes.
Nichol said they were still working with NZR and Provincial Unions on what would happen with Provincial Union contracts.
The key changes:
- Freezing team assembly and tournament fees for all national teams, excluding the Black Ferns
- Freezing contributions to the player savings scheme, but retaining KiwiSaver
- Freezing promotional payments and the vast majority of player performance incentives
- From 1 May, freezing 15 percent of the players' 2020 base retainers for those paid more than $50,000 per year, with this rising to 30 percent in September
- Reductions in funding for other initiatives for players that are funded by the Player Payment Pool while still maintaining insurance cover and key player wellbeing, development and support initiatives.