Australian players’ salary talks to continue over Easter

Date published: April 9 2020

There will be no pre-Easter resolution on Australian rugby players’ salaries and discussions are set to continue over the upcoming long weekend.

Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) were set to meet on Thursday to continue talks but were forced to reschedule after an attendee was ill, with their next meeting set down for Saturday morning.

The governing body is reportedly asking players to take a 65 per cent pay cut for up to the next six months, with Super Rugby and any domestic replacement suspended until at least May 1.

The fate of this year’s Tests is unclear but Rugby Australia has said previously it is preparing for the worst case scenario that could see AUS$120 million in lost revenue should no rugby be played in 2020.

This was the first week of progress in talks after Rugby Australia delivered more detailed financial information to the players’ association last Saturday.

Their first major meeting was on Sunday afternoon, Rugby Australia describing those talks as “robust and positive”, but RUPA have opted against commenting publicly in the days since that meeting.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has taken a 50 per cent pay cut and her executive team have taken 30 per cent pay cuts for the next three months.

When those figures were released after the organisation’s AGM on March 30, RUPA chief executive Justin Harrison said players believed that range was “adequate” for players.

RUPA represents all of Australia’s Super Rugby players, Wallaroos and Sevens players, and their board includes high-profile current players including Scott Sio and Sevens co-captain Shannon Parry and president Damien Fitzpatrick.

The Western Force are an affiliate member and are not covered in the collective bargaining agreement.

Although the Force’s Global Rapid Rugby competition has been cancelled, the club’s players are still training, and being paid as normal.

Currently Australia’s Sevens teams are a fortnight into annual leave, which began when the remainder of the 2019/20 World Series was postponed last month.

All of Australia’s Super W (Women’s competition) and Super Rugby teams are training in relative isolation, using home gyms and nearby ovals and parks to train where possible.

If a resolution to the pay discussion does not come soon, some Super Rugby clubs are reportedly considering standing down their players, in the same way they have staff in recent weeks.

Rugby Australia has stood down 75 per cent of its staff, as have the Waratahs while the Brumbies and Reds have kept staff on but reduced their pay and working hours.

Rugby is the last of the three major winter football codes yet to decide on a pay deal with the NRL and AFL both signing off on agreements in the past fortnight.

The NRL, which also announced on Thursday that it was planning on resuming the competition on May 28, had come to an agreement where players would forego their final five months’ salary this year.

The AFL, which is suspended until May 31, will see its players take a 50 per cent pay cut for the next two months.