Player pay discussions to stretch into a new week

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A resolution on a short-term pay deal for Australia's professional players is not expected until Monday after another day of talks between Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association wrapped up on Friday.

Formal negotiations have been going on for close to two weeks and Australia is one of the last major unions still to agree on the pay structure for players in coming months.

The parties are edging closer to a deal and it was rumoured that a deal could be announced as early as the middle of this week but that has not come to furition.

While that did not eventuate, a Rugby Australia spokesperson said Friday’s talks finished in a “good place”.

RUPA CEO Justin Harrison is believed to want to consult the wider playing base about discussions before a formal agreement is complete.

Australia's broader playing base will be consulted about the outcome over the weekend and Monday is now expected to be the day that a deal is completed.

The pressure to finalise a deal has increased in recent days with World Rugby’s announcement of a $A158 million relief fund for unions facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any loan, though, is reportedly unlikely to come until a player pay deal is finalised, giving some more certainty to Australia’s financial position moving forward.

Rugby Australia is believed to have asked the players to take a 65 per cent pay cut

It is expected that any agreement will be weighted towards the game’s top earners, as has been the case in a number of countries around the rugby world.

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle has taken a 65 per cent pay cut while her executive team has taken 30 per cent cuts for at least the next three months.

Three-quarters of Rugby Australia’s administration staff were stood down at the start of April for three months.

Castle said the organisation was bracing for a worst-case scenario of $120 million in lost revenue if no more rugby is played this year.

This article does not necessarily represent the views of Rugby Australia or its affiliated member unions.