ARU CEO Bill Pulver admits Australia’s Women’s Sevens team is underpaid but is hopeful a new sponsorship deal with global insurance giant Aon will help rectify that.
Speaking to media today at the announcement of the landmark deal, which will run for four years, Pulver heaped praise on the Women’s Sevens side, which catapulted to national stardom after an historic Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics.
“It’s wonderful to see in Australia, the incredible growth and profile of women’s sport and I think these girls are leading the way,” he said.
“Women are the secret sauce in the sense that when we get mothers involved in rugby they let their daughters and they also let their sons play.”
When questioned as to whether the deal with Aon will help bridge a $5000 pay gap between the average Men’s Sevens and Women’s Sevens player, Pulver admitted the Gold Medallists were playing well above their pay grade.
“The girls behind me contribute far more to Australian rugby than we pay them - lets get that on the cards already,” he said.
“The commercial value they bring to the game is priceless and I think they know Australian rugby is extremely grateful for that. - Bill Pulver
“Our Men’s Sevens team - these are in effect the equivalent to pre-tax dollars - if you compare pre-tax compensation the Men’s Sevens have an average of $92,000 per player and the Women’s Sevens have an average of $87,000 per player and that clearly does not compare to what is being paid at the elite level in the Men’s national XV side.
“The great thing about partnerships like this one we have with Aon is that we will have the capacity to reward them in a way they deserve to be rewarded.”
It is understood the pay packets Pulver quoted are a combination of ARU salary, government and AOC funding.
The gap between the two averages has also narrowed this year with the high profile departures of several Men’s Sevens stars, including Cam Clark and Con Foley.
Pulver also commended the AFL and Cricket Australia for taking a positive approach to helping grow women’s sport.
“Are they worth more than what we pay them? Yes, they are.
“But I would tell you I think unquestionably they are the best paid elite female athletes in the country.”