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Rugby Australia announce increase in pay for female athletes

By AAP
The Wallaroos sing the national anthem. Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Australia’s premier women’s rugby players will receive a guaranteed $72,458 in 2024 following a 28 per cent increase from Rugby Australia.

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The governing body’s chief executive Phil Waugh on Friday conceded the code still has a “lot of work to do” to close the payment gap after announcing it had increased investment in women’s rugby for a second successive year.

Rugby Australia (RA) pledged more than $3 million while committing to additional funding, more Tier 1 contracts for Wallaroos and higher player payments.

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The code also aims to implement a world-class high-performance system for the 15-a-side women’s game.

The uplift comes on the back of a promising season for the Wallaroos in 2023, capped by a third-place finish at World Rugby’s inaugural WXV global tournament in New Zealand last November.

With the women’s 2029 Rugby World Cup to be held at home, RA is eager to build a lasting legacy as it embarks on the runway towards this marquee event.

“We have identified Rugby Australia’s sevens program as the benchmark for us to emulate,” said RA chief executive Phil Waugh.

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“(It is) one of the most elite fulltime and fully professional women’s sports programs in the country and (has) achieved remarkable success for more than a decade.

“We saw a significant increase in participation among women and girls last year, and much of that was in sevens.

“This followed an unprecedented 2022 when our women’s sevens team won all three major trophies on offer, proving that success can genuinely drive interest and participation – and this is the opportunity with women’s XVs.

“We will continue to grow the women’s game in a sustainable and responsible way.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but the increase in our commitment over the last two years shows our determination to continue pushing forward.”

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Tier 1-contracted players can earn $72,458 a year in RA payments for Wallaroos and Super Rugby Women’s participation, up from a maximum $56,000 in 2023.

The figures do not include additional player payments from Super Rugby clubs.

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Poorfour 5 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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