Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players’ Association have finally reached a resolution on an interim pay deal.
The agreement was reached this afternoon following three weeks of discussions between the rugby bodies after Rugby Australia announced significant cuts across its business on March 31. Those cuts included standing down 75% of its workforce, leading to an 80% overall reduction in costs across the business.
The financial measures have been secured for the next six months, or until competition can resume, with the Vodafone Super Rugby competition remaining on hold due to Government-imposed border and travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The agreement will see Australia’s 192 professional Rugby players take an average 60% salary reduction through to September 30, unless competition resumes at an earlier date.
The 2020 Vodafone Super Rugby season was suspended at the completion of Round 7.
“All players received their full monthly payment in April, with the salary reduction to be amortised over the next five months,” a RA statement read.
“The minimum a player will earn is $1500 per fortnight (the Australian Government JobKeeper entitlement). If competition resumes prior to September 30, Rugby Australia, the four Super Rugby teams, and RUPA will negotiate new terms in good faith.”
RUPA and the Member Unions will also be included in key discussions regarding Rugby’s future structure, competition design and scheduling going forward.
The announcement also revealed that up to six players have negotiated the opportunity to explore a playing opportunity in an overseas club competition. Any such deals would be agreed on the basis of a six month contract, within the years 2021-23.
“This will be managed with the Super Rugby teams and players will not be paid by Rugby Australia or their Super Rugby team while playing offshore,” the statement confirmed.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “Sporting organisations around the world are experiencing an unprecedented challenge, as indeed the whole of society is, and rugby is no different as we continue to come to grips with the impacts of the global COVID-19 crisis.
“The players recognise and appreciate their role and shared responsibility in securing the future and helping us navigate through this difficult time and I want to thank them, on behalf of the game, for their willingness to work with us to reach an interim solution that will help us protect the long-term future of Rugby in Australia.
"You will never get it done," Gus Pichot was told by the former chairman of World Rugby – which is exactly why he is now pushing so hard for change.https://t.co/LuusAMrtBP
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 20, 2020
“This has not been an easy discussion, but it has been a necessary one to ensure that we are able to emerge from the other side of this crisis in the best possible position for the game to move forward. It is important to note that these measures are a stop-gap, not a full-stop.
“We are deep into our planning to ensure we are able to navigate our way through this and be ready for competition to resume as soon as that is possible. The players have been involved in this process and we look forward to continuing that work and seeing them back out on the field doing what they do best.
“The structure of our game is complex with the international models of SANZAAR, the Sevens World Series and the Olympic Games, and players in all forms of the game will be impacted differently. These differences for our athletes add complexity to the discussions and so continuing to work together is critical to getting the best outcomes for all.
“The country is missing Rugby and we are all looking forward to the day that players can return to the field and fans to the stands.”
RUPA chairman Justin Harrison had earlier confirmed that players accepted a significant pay cut.
“Australia’s professional players will play a central role in the short–term preservation of the game by accepting a significant reduction in pay in order for necessary transformation to begin,” Harrison said in a statement.
“RUPA’s members understand their part in the game’s immediate future and the responsibility that goes with it. The players have voted as a block in supporting RUPA’s recommendation.”
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