The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) are concerned about a vacuum of information from Rugby Australia over their financial position and worried they will be presented with a fait accompli, after the governing body’s AGM on Monday.
The sensitive issues of potential large player wage cuts and staff layoffs are among the big issues set to be discussed at the AGM, which will be conducted via a video conference from 10am (AEDT).
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Other sports including Australian rules and netball have already announced large short-term player pay cuts and stood down staff.
While some sporting organisations have kept their players’ representative body in the loop over their financial situation, RUPA said they had have had a number of cancelled dates with Rugby Australia.“RUPA members and the game’s stakeholders are frustrated, there is a vacuum of information,” RUPA CEO and former Wallabies’ lock Justin Harrison said.
“While our colleagues in the other major football codes across Australia have been meeting with their governing bodies for weeks, RA has refused to share any information about the future financial direction of the game.
“Are the players about to be presented with a fait accompli – the future of the game decided without any consultation?”
The RUPA executive hopes to meet with RA on Tuesday.
RA will reveal its financial result for 2019 at Monday’s AGM.
It recorded a net surplus of $5.2m in 2018, but after the last AGM anticipated running at a loss in 2019 due to reductions in broadcast and match day revenue because of a limited domestic Test schedule in a World Cup year.
Revenue for 2020 will be adversely affected by the Super Rugby tournament being suspended for the foreseeable future after seven rounds, and a delay to a proposed domestic competition in its place, while doubt surrounds the Test schedule later in the year.
The sport’s global governing body World Rugby may be able to off er some financial support, though that has still to be determined.
Outside of the financial discussions, RA will on Monday fill three positions on its board.
Those positions are set to be taken by 1999 World Cup winning Wallaby centre Dan Herbert, Virgin Blue co-founder Brett Godfrey and Peter Wiggs, chairman of Supercars.
Either Godfrey or Wiggs is tipped to take over as the chairperson, a spot filled in an interim capacity since last month by former Wallaby Paul McLean.
He is one of the board’s most senior directors, having served in that role for the past eight years after an almost five-year stint as RA president from 2005-2009.
McLean took over last month from previous incumbent Cameron Clyne, who is stepping down at the AGM.
The new chair is expected to take over from McLean mid-year, allowing a gradual transition into the role.
RA has plenty on its plate over the next year, including finalising a new broadcast deal which had been put on hold, bidding for the 2027 World Cup and a looming new collective bargaining agreement.
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