The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA), Rugby Australia (Rugby AU) and Australia’s four Super Rugby teams are pleased to announce the execution of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), following months of robust but productive and private discussions between the parties.
The new CBA is effective immediately and runs through to the end of 2020, in line with the current broadcast agreement.
The new CBA positions Rugby to begin 2018 on a positive note and provides clarity for all professional Rugby stakeholders for the future. It also allows the game’s new leaders and administrators to begin their rejuvenation of the professional game from a stable and united platform, and provides security for the players as the game embarks upon this new era.
For the first time, the new CBA sees the Wallabies, Wallaroos, all Super Rugby players and both Australian Rugby Sevens squads captured within its scope. New minimum terms and conditions have been agreed for each playing group, with the CBA retaining the revenue share model which sees players continuing to receive 29% of revenue generated by the professional game.
Pay equality between Super Rugby and Rugby Sevens players – male and female – has also been achieved, with the entry level full-time minimum salaries replicated across the professional game.
Rugby Sevens players will continue to be eligible to receive dAIS funding via the Australian Sports Commission in addition to these minimum RA contracts, while professional female players will also now be protected by an industry leading Pregnancy Policy to provide support and security over their employment. In another first for the game, Wallaroos players will receive Test match payments for the first time from 2018.
A new contracting model for Super Rugby has also been established which increases the number of full-time Super Rugby contract opportunities at each team, with all four Super Rugby clubs to contract a minimum of 36 full-time players (up to a maximum of 40). The overall Super Rugby salary cap has been adjusted to accommodate all full-time players at Super Rugby clubs to a total of $5.5million, with a 15% discount built-in to reward long-serving players.
Importantly, a Rugby pathway within Western Australia has been retained, with the future of the National Rugby Championship (NRC) and the continued participation of a Western Australian team guaranteed for the length of the Agreement.
RUPA President Dean Mumm said that the execution of the CBA was critical in order to allow for players to focus on Rugby in 2018.
“With the previous CBA expiring at the end of 2017, securing this Agreement has been a priority for all parties and provides the certainty and stability to put recent challenges behind us,” Mumm said.
"This agreement allows all parties to draw a line in the sand and move forward towards a more prosperous future for Australian Rugby.
“Whilst both parties have made concessions in order to secure the Agreement, the negotiations that have transpired amidst a highly-challenging landscape have been respectful, transparent and fair. Having been present throughout negotiations on behalf of the players, I would like to commend Rugby Australia for the spirit of these discussions.”
RUPA Chief Executive Ross Xenos said that the CBA prioritises high performance and player wellbeing as key’s to future success.
“This CBA ensures that every player’s core conditions of employment continue to improve with every new season, whilst prioritising performance and wellbeing through a range of initiatives which are designed to ensure that players are given every opportunity to thrive on and off the field,” Xenos said.
“We’ve been able to address long-term concerns held by players in improving leave and rest scheduling, adding flexibility to the Super Rugby contracting model and importantly embracing all professional players across all formats and genders in a new CBA.
“All players are committed to winning games of Rugby, be they Rugby World Cup finals, gold medal matches, at a Super Rugby or NRC level, or back with their Premier Rugby clubs, and that commitment now includes players making a $250,000 direct investment into performance and wellbeing support services each year of this new deal.”
Outgoing Rugby Australia CEO Bill Pulver said: “I want to thank Ross and his team for what has been a tough but fair negotiation, which has provided an outcome that ultimately sets our game on a strong footing heading into the final three years of our current broadcast agreement.
“While we continue to invest heavily in the professional game, Rugby Australia and RUPA have worked together to ensure that the game can address the issue of funding at the community level.
“We have struck a balance that will allow greater investment in the community game, while ensuring that our High Performance programs are supported to deliver the on-field success that Rugby fans demand and deserve.
“The new CBA is the first of its kind to incorporate all professional programs, including our Sevens teams and the Wallaroos, and importantly addresses key issues of pay equality and player welfare.”
Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson said: “It is a credit to everyone involved that the game has been able to come together to achieve this outcome after a challenging year.
“The new CBA provides a strong platform for the game to build upon and provides certainty to all stakeholders in the game for the duration of the current broadcast deal.”