Rugby Australia and RUPA have announced sweeping pay increase across all forms of professional rugby from 2018 following tough negotiations between the two parties.
Rugby Australia and players’ representatives have nutted out a new two-year collective bargaining agreement for an average $225,000 yearly wage in 2018, Rugby Australia announced on Wednesday.
The deal will allow Super Rugby squads to increase by five players, with a new contracting model established which increases the number of full-time Super Rugby contract opportunities at each team, while the overall Super Rugby salary cap has been adjusted to accommodate all full-time players at Super Rugby clubs to a total of $Aus5.5 million.
In another boost, men’s and women’s sevens players’ base pay has been raised to equal their XV-a-side colleagues.
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.
While, professional female players will also now be protected by an industry leading Pregnancy Policy to provide support and security over their employment, and Wallaroos players will for the first time receive Test match payment.
Outgoing Rugby Australia CEO Bill Pulver said: “I want to thank RUPA CEO Ross Xenos 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.”
RUPA President Dean Mumm said the new CBA was critical for all players heading into the 2018 season.
“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.”
The pay rise comes after a difficult year for players, many of whom faced months of uncertainty as the governing body made the decision to axe the Western Force from the SANZAAR competition.
Amid low crowd numbers, Australian teams also struggled on the park, with none of them able to beat a New Zealand-based franchise.
There is also uncertainty over South Africa’s long-term involvement in the competition, with reports suggesting more sides could follow the axed Kings and Cheetahs to Europe.