Player pay talks to continue after "positive and robust" Sunday meeting

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia and RUPA will continue pay deal talks into this week after meeting on Sunday.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle and chairman Paul McLean said in a joint statement that "good progress" was made in the meeting but discussions would continue.

It was widely expected that talks would continue beyond Sunday even before the meeting began, with RUPA CEO Justin Harrison saying earlier in the week that a deal would likely take more than a week to be arrived at.

The meeting comes after a week in which 75 per cent of staff were stood down until June 30 and Castle and her executive team took 50 per cent and 30 per cent pay reductions, respectively, for that same period.

Castle has said previously that the initial hope is to agree on a three-month deal for players, in line with the decisions that Rugby Australia has made in other areas of the business.

"Representatives of Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) met again today and made good progress in the process of negotiating an emergency and interim pay deal in response to the global COVID-19 crisis," Rugby Australia's statement said.

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"Talks were positive and robust, with both parties agreeing to continue to move negotiations forward with ongoing discussions scheduled for this week.

"Rugby Australia remains focused on securing a fair and reasonable deal with the players that will help protect the long-term future of our game.

The statement also made mention of World Rugby's recent pledge to support unions in financial hardship and praised the players for their acceptance that they would need to take some of the financial pain in the current situation.

"We also welcome recent comments by World Rugby as it assists all national unions navigate through this very difficult time.

"The players understand that the burden must be shared by everyone in our game and we will look to reach an agreement which is fair and reasonable given the extraordinary circumstances we are in."

RUPA opted against making a public comment after Sunday's meeting but CEO Harrison had expressed the organisation's frustrations about a lack of transparency in recent weeks.