Coronavirus: Rugby Australia agrees pay cut with players

By Peter Hanson 20 April 2020 1
Coronavirus: Rugby Australia agrees pay cut with players

Rugby Australia (RA) has agreed an average 60 per cent wage cut with players until September as it continues to deal with the financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

An agreement was struck following weeks of protracted talks between RA, the nation's Super Rugby teams and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA).

The news will affect 192 professional players in Australia and could reportedly save RA up to 83 per cent on payments between April and September.

Earlier in April, the organisation stood down 75 per cent of its staff for three months after warning 120million Australian dollars could be lost in revenue if the season was to end due to the global health crisis.

New terms will be discussed if the season resumes before September 30.

"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," said RA chief executive Raelene Castle, who has taken a 65 per cent salary cut for six months.

"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 CEO Justin Harrison added: "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.

"The players reached a resolution with the Member Unions and Rugby Australia today.

"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."

Several unions have implemented measures to help cope with the financial burden caused by COVID-19, with New Zealand Rugby announcing a 50 per cent pay freeze with its players for the remainder of the year.

Last week, World Rugby announced a $100m relief fund would be made available to support struggling unions.

Australia are scheduled to face Ireland and Fiji in July, although the likelihood of those matches taking place appears slim. 

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Peter Hanson