Rugby Australia, the four Australian Super Rugby teams and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) have today reached agreement on an interim pay deal for players as the code continues to navigate the devastating effects of the COVID-19 global health and economic crisis.
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 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.
Key features of the agreement include:
● An average 60% salary reduction for six (6) months across the 192 contracted players (through to September 30, 2020)
● 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 be included in key discussions regarding Rugby’s future structure, competition design and scheduling
● Rugby Australia and RUPA will continue to work closely to deliver the welfare programs for players during these challenging times
● Up to six (6) players have negotiated the opportunity to explore a playing opportunity for one (1) period of six months, within the years 2021-23 in an overseas club competition. 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
St.George Queensland Reds Captain, Liam Wright, said the players are mindful of the their role in assisting Rugby through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s good to finalise the financial arrangements for the players and give the game certainty for the next six months.
“Everyone involved in rugby in Queensland has been doing it hard since this pandemic started and the players understand their responsibility to bear some financial pain to preserve the state of the game in Australia.
“We’ve continued to train in isolation under a regime prepared by Brad and his staff and we can’t wait to play Rugby again. Obviously, we’ll be guided by the health experts and the politicians on the right time to resume playing – but when that day comes the Reds will be ready to wear that Maroon jersey with pride for all Queenslanders.
“In the meantime, I’d encourage everyone to stay safe and follow the social distancing guidelines.”
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.
“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.”