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Less than a week after pulling the plug on its San Francisco team, PRO Rugby alerted all of its players they’re being terminated. In his message to players, owner and CEO Doug Schoninger assigned blame to USA Rugby. He alleges the national governing body didn't sufficiently protect PRO's exclusive sanctioning rights.
Schoninger wrote that he is hopeful that PRO and USA Rugby will be able to resolve their issues within the next 30 days, the termination clause period in the players’ contracts, hinting at the possibility of reinstating everyone if he’s pleased with the progress of talks between him and the national governing body.
While players should be paid while they're still employed over the next 30 days, receiving two more paychecks, most were contracted for 12 months and will lose out on money they've already earned. The league year officially ends March 13, 2017, leaving contracted players light more than two months' pay.
This announcement comes off the back of a long meeting between Schoninger and USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne. They sat down together in New York on Friday.
Below is the full letter.
PRO Rugby Players,
As some of you may or may not know, we have been having serious issues with the cooperation and the enforcement of our agreement with USA Rugby. We have been actively trying to resolve our issues with USA Rugby for over four months and, unfortunately, it appears that USA Rugby will not honor the commitments they made to us.
Because of this, we are notifying all presently agreed players of PRO Rugby that we are exercising the Voluntary Termination clause in your contract (section 5(b)). We are hopeful, but with no assurances, that we will be able to resolve all issues with USA Rugby prior to end of the termination clause period. We will keep you up to date with any progress or news as it becomes available.
Please remember, until the end of the termination clause you are still an employee of PRO Rugby and all duties and obligations should be adhered to.
Because of the above, payment for the period ending on December 15th was delayed. These payments will be issued tomorrow, December 21st for receipt no later than December 22, 2016.
I am very sorry that we were forced to take this action and we are trying to do everything we can to ensure that PRO Rugby, its players, coaches, and employees are all treated fairly.