Michael Cheika wants transparency from Rugby Australia

Date published: April 2 2020

Rugby Australia needs to be more transparent and show strong leadership in their stalemate over salaries with the country’s leading players.

That was the word from former Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika regarding the issue of potential pay cuts which must still be resolved between Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA).

RUPA have requested “detailed financial information” from Rugby Australia before it gives them a proposal regarding a reduction in salaries due to the abandonment of Super Rugby because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a difficult situation to be in, number one,” Cheika told Stuff. “There’s not really a handbook or a playbook. I think some of the principles around general leadership are really important.

“In a time of crisis, transparency and communication are extremely important. This is where, from what I’ve heard from different players who I’ve spoken to, they’re not getting that.

“Other codes have laid their cards on the table. Some of them have copped a bit of a panning for it … at least there is a certain amount of transparency and I’m pretty sure that the players, when it comes to the discussion around pay cuts, with that information, they all know they’ve got to toe the line.”

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle released a statement on Wednesday evening in which she responded to criticism as to why her organisation have not provided comprehensive financial details to RUPA yet.

“We believe the information we have shared, including information on future cash projections, provides the players with enough information to develop a position,” she said.

“We have entered the discussions with RUPA in good faith and look forward to continuing those discussions to reach an appropriate agreement under the current circumstances.”

Cheika raised the issue of executive salaries across all sporting codes in Australia.

Castle has taken a 50 per cent pay cut, while it was revealed on Wednesday evening that NRL CEO Todd Greenberg would take the same cut as that organisation’s players when an amount has been determined.

“One thing across the board that has been surprising – I’m not just saying this in rugby – is across the board about the tiering of wage cuts,” said Cheika.

“I think in leadership you’ve got to give a direction and align people behind you. It’s pretty difficult when you say I’m going to take 60 per cent, they’re taking 30 and you chaps are getting nothing. All in it together means we’re all in it together.

“If there’s more transparency then everyone says, ‘OK, yeah, we have got a problem and we all have to fix it’ because it’s important to do it. You can’t deny it and there’s no hidden measures.”