Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) chief executive Justin Harrison has suggested pay cuts taken by Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle and her executive, would be acceptable for members.

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Castle on Monday declared she would take a 50% pay cut and her executive would follow with a 30% wage reduction, as the code announced a provisional $9.4 million loss for 2019.

Harrison acknowledged the sacrifices made by Castle and her executive.

“As a playing group the members take an indication that pay cuts of between 30 and 50% are considered adequate to help the game through this crisis,” Harrison said.

“Our fear was deeper cuts might be needed and that the game was in a financial black hole.”

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Forecasting “significant cuts” across the board, RA will meet RUPA on Tuesday to discuss what it will take to survive the next three months.

“I’ve committed to RUPA that we wouldn’t come to the table as a fait accompli and it be presented to them as a ‘here it is – take it or leave it’,” Castle said.

Harrison had previously accused RA of a lack of consultation in the process.

“They have expressed their frustration. I share their frustrations. I wish that we could get there quicker and I wish we could have all this nailed down,” Castle said.

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She said RA was reluctant to enter any formal discussions with RUPA before a clearer picture was painted at Monday’s annual general meeting.

“We’ll be able to expedite the conversations as opposed to starting last week with half of the information and not really knowing,” she said.

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Harrison said RUPA looked forward to a first opportunity for pragmatic and transparent discussions on the restructuring and survival of the game.

Legal bills associated with the Israel Folau saga stung RA before the hammer blow of COVID-19 shut down Super Rugby – and potentially Wallabies Tests later this year – leading to losses in match-day and broadcast revenue.

Castle admits she can’t predict what professional rugby might look like next year, but is confident it will exist and that a “think tank” of the game’s key stakeholders will be assembled to assess their options.

Despite RA’s precarious overall position, Castle was confident it could stay afloat at least in the short term.

“Survival for the next three months is the most-important piece, then we can sit down as a sport,” she said.

“All I can say is we have enough cash with plans we’ve put in place to ensure we can be cash-positive at the end of that three-month period, so that’s a good start point.”

– AAP

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