Rugby Australia’s bid to not fall behind in the fast-moving women’s sporting revolution has resulted in female players going unpaid, an advocate says.
Super W is the latest women’s competition by a major Australian sporting code, following the WBBL, W-League, AFLW and NRL Women’s Premiership, with the latter announced this month.
RA believes the competition will provide greater pathways to elite – and paid – involvement in the game and has been hailed by Wallaroos co-captain Shannon Parry as a huge step forward for women’s rugby.
“For the girls to have week-in, week-out strong competition, it’s a lot better for the (national) team,” Parry said.
“They’re going to have access to high-performance facilities which we’ve never really had before.”
But Women Sport Australia spokeswoman Louise Evans said the governing body had done its female players a disservice.
Evans said the failure to pay came despite RA gaining access to a bigger audience with the new competition.
“Rugby Australia, which has really been in the doldrums, has finally woken up that, ‘oh yes, we need a women’s competition. We need to get on board to be able to compete’,” Evans told AAP.
“But they’ve come up with a model that is defective in that they are not paying the women.
“I think it’s a real own goal for Rugby Australia. We suggest they go back and re-work their model.
“Why, if you’re an elite athlete, would you put your body on the line for free when you get a living wage and get very good on and off-field conditions – unless you absolutely loved it (playing rugby) – playing AFLW, WBBL, Super Netball?”
Pulver said RA was working towards pay equality in sevens rugby and left the window open for women’s 15-a-side players to also be paid.
“We’re actually in negotiations right now with the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA),” he said.
“…. to try and make sure we have gender equality from a pay perspective. And that’s a work in progress and we’d love to think early next year we can communicate the outcome from that, which I think will be favourable.
“The women s XV’s game here is still an amateur game, so the girls participating in this at this stage won’t be paid.”
The speed of the announcement seemed to even catch RUPA off-guard, with the union having not yet formalised their position on the pay matter when contacted by AAP on Thursday afternoon.
Super W will involved five teams and begin in March.