In return for potential hybrid contracts, Steve Borthwick could have more say on each player’s conditioning, game time, position; RFU would pay larger sum to clubs than current £40,000 awarded for each player supplied to elite player squad (EPS); RFU, Premiership Rugby in discussions
England stars could be placed on ‘hybrid contracts’ as part of negotiations over a significant change to the way the national team is managed.
The Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby are in talks to give head coach Steve Borthwick greater control of a set number of Test players, the PA news agency understands.
Under the agreement, Borthwick would pick a group of internationals who he would see as providing the foundations of his squad for the 2027 World Cup.
In return for having more of a say on aspects of each player’s career such as conditioning, game time and position, the RFU would pay a larger sum to clubs than the current amount of £40,000 awarded for every player supplied to the elite player squad (EPS).
If the agreement is approved, it would be one of the most significant changes to the English system since the game went professional almost 30 years ago.
While watered down from the central contracts that are a success in Ireland and New Zealand, they would break new ground given previous England coaches have had no influence over their players’ schedules when they are on club duty.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney raised the possibility of central contracts a year ago and there is a growing appetite among clubs battling against a bleak financial outlook to surrender some control of their Red Rose stars in return for compensation to help pay their wages.
Hybrid contracts have also been floated by Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. Saracens supply Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Theo Dan, Ben Earl, Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly and Max Malins to Borthwick’s current World Cup squad.
“It should be top of the agenda, central contracts. If there is an opportunity to do something a bit differently and for club and country to work very closely together over a particular player,” McCall said in March.
“Maybe share his salary? We all know the top international players will be unavailable for half your programme anyway.
“Probably down the years it has been unfair on the club to pay that player his full salary if that’s the case.
“You need to understand as well that as soon as the RFU starts to contribute towards someone’s salary then you lose a bit of control over that player, but I think that’s the right thing to do.”