30-50 per cent pay cuts adequate for Australia’s players

Date published: March 31 2020

Australia’s Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) said it believes 30-50 per cent pay cuts for their players will be “adequate” during the coronavirus pandemic.

This was in response to news that Rugby Australia’s executive had agreed to wage reductions.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle confirmed on Monday that she would take a 50 per cent pay cut, to the tune to AUS$400,000, while the rest of her executive team would cut their salaries by 30 per cent for the next three months at least.

RUPA CEO Justin Harrison released a statement on Monday night welcoming the decision of Castle and her team to reduce their salaries, and took their moves as an indication of “adequate” pay reductions.

RUPA and Rugby Australia will meet on Tuesday to discuss potential salary cuts, after big reductions in their major sporting counterparts.

“The RUPA acknowledges Raelene Castle’s decision to take a 50 per cent pay cut and we also note her executive team’s acceptance of a 30 per cent reduction in salary,” said Harrison.

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

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

Harrison said he looked forward to the first “transparent” meeting on Tuesday.

“We look forward to the first opportunity for pragmatic and transparent discussions on the restructuring and survival of the game,” he said.

If rugby’s players do take a big cut, they follow NRL and AFL players in taking pay cuts due to the code’s financial position.

The AFL Players Association recently agreed to a 50 per cent pay reduction with NRL players are in negotiations with the NRL over a potential 75 per cent salary reduction.

Rugby Australia’s executive salaries will be assessed regularly, Castle said after confirming the cuts.

“All of these things will be discussed on a monthly basis,” she said.

“It’s a good start point to set an example around how important an issue I think this is.”

Castle explained that Rugby Australia was working to keep Super Rugby teams and the organisation’s member unions running for the next three months to start with.

“It’s important that we keep Rugby Australia, Super teams and other member unions all in a financially viable situation over the next three months to make sure any decisions we make going forward for rugby in this country will be made with time, with the accurate financial information, and we can make any of those decisions calmly and in a considered way knowing that we’ve got certainties for at least the next three months,” she said.

“Those decisions are significant, and we will continue to work closely with government and with Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) around how an industry package for sport might be developed for all of sport.

“We’re in constant dialogue with government around any financial situation we find ourselves in and that we might have for additional loans for grants or loan facilities.”

Castle said that three-month plan, at the end of which she is confident the business will be “cash positive”, is ensuring all Super Rugby teams and their associated unions and other unions receive their usual grants.

“Part of that three-month rolling process we’ve put in place is to ensure the grant to all of our member unions stay in place to make sure our Super unions and other member unions, where the grant is equally important, all remain in place for second quarter of our financial year,” she said.

“That will allow them to get their grants, them to make sensible decisions, and give us time to work through what the next six months look like.”