Robins Tchale-Watchou came out very satisfied with the joint committee which brought together all the players in French rugby this morning. Unsurprisingly, the drop in player salaries has been mentioned. The president of Provale, the players’ union, reminded RMC Sport that this could only be one of many measures.
Robins Tchale-Watchou, what is your state of mind in this context of health and economic crisis?
It’s not the easiest time. But you have to look on the bright side to make a difference in building the future. It is certain that there will be a before and after a coronavirus. There will be changes in the rugby economy. As much as I was worried until Friday, the joint committee this morning lets me rather predict good things. There is a clear will on the part of all actors to move forward and build something good.
So you are satisfied with the exchanges this morning?
Yes, the meeting went very well. It was a very nice match. The players were strongly represented because I wanted this more participative approach. The entire Provale steering committee was there as well as representatives from the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs, as well as the UCPR (union of professional clubs) and Tech XV (the coaching union). This is good because we are not in a normal pattern today. I need all the skills and looks of the players to come up with the most collegial solutions possible. This meeting was essential.
Especially since you were asking yourself a lot of questions after being dismissed from Friday’s work meeting when the agents had been invited…
UCPR Vice-President Thierry Emin made very important remarks this morning. He came back in his introductory remarks on Friday’s meeting, and he clearly indicated that the approach was not to rule us out. This is very important and we thanked him for this clarification. Because, by taking the other side, this approach could have hinted at something not right. We took the opportunity to remind everyone that we had to work in complete transparency. We are ready to trade and we have things to offer.
That is to say?
The context should not be a pretext for certain entities already in difficulty to raise the bar. Solutions must be found essentially due to the epidemic, and not for anything else, in particular the structural deficits that certain entities could experience. This clarification from the leaders is a strong message. We are all in this process of social partners ready to listen to all the players, including the agents’ union, Intervals, who must have ideas to offer.
What progress has been made by this joint committee?
We had a principle agreement on the method. To discuss this, it will be done within the framework of joint and social dialogue, with a common approach and transmission of information. As a president reminded us, the figures given to us by the DNACG (National Directorate for Aid and Management Control) are only forecasts, with a comparative basis of the 2008 crisis. Today, no one knows what will happen in one, two or six months. It is important to really know the situation of each structure before the crisis and of projections with the consequences of the crisis. The fairest possible and most optimal solutions must be provided.
You ask that the presidents do not lower the wages of players by taking advantage of the crisis?
Exactly. And this is an opinion shared by all. A set of measures must first be studied collectively. We agreed on the methodology and the approach. I dare not believe that someone would want to take advantage of the context. No one would allow it. As much on Friday I was quite pessimistic, as much today I am rather serene after this constructive exchange and an extraordinary mobilization of the players. It is within the framework of social dialogue that all collective bargaining will take place. At the next meeting, we will set the frequency of our meetings and a precise calendar. There is no point in wanting to go too fast. The idea is to get something done in a few weeks or months.
Are players now saying that the reduction in wages is inevitable? Is it on everyone’s mind?
If your question is whether we have discussed it, the answer is yes. We all know that cutting wages alone will not be enough to fill the void. Otherwise it will amount to saying that the players are responsible and guilty for what is going on. The question is: if there is a drop in wages, what can she go with to fill this void? This must be a possible measure among many others. The players are aware of what is happening. It is obvious. Are they ready to find solutions? Again, this is obvious. We must now work on the substance, but once again we must not rush to not find false good solutions. We have to work on the files and dig the numbers. We will not always agree and some subjects will upset us but trust social dialogue. But given this morning’s speech, there’s no reason it’s not going well.