Rugby Australia, the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) and Australia’s four Super Rugby teams have introduced a collective bargaining agreement that will equalise pay between male and female athletes.
The new agreement, which is effective until 2020, ensures that entry-level, full-time minimum salaries for professional male and female Super Rugby and Rugby Sevens players are the same. The collective bargaining agreement also introduces a pregnancy police for professional female players to provide support and security around their employment.
The agreement, for the first time, covers the Wallabies, Wallaroos, all Super Rugby players and both Australian Rugby Sevens squads. New minimum terms and conditions have been set for each group, with the revenue share model being retained. This allows players to receive 29% of the revenue generated by the professional game. In addition, Wallaroos players will receive test match payments for the first time from 2018.
The new contracting model for Super Rugby, established under the collective bargaining agreement, will also increase the number of full-time Super Rugby contract opportunities at each team. All four teams can now 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, reaching a total of $5.5 million (£3.2 million). A 15% discount has also been built in to reward long-serving players.
Ross Xenos, chief executive officer at RUPA, said: “This [collective bargaining agreement] ensures that every player’s core conditions of employment continue to improve with every new season, [while] 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.
“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 [collective bargaining agreement].
“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 (£144,115) direct investment into performance and wellbeing support services each year of this new deal.”
Bill Pulver, outgoing chief executive officer at Rugby Australia, added: “We have struck a balance that will allow greater investment in the community game, while ensuring that our high-performance programmes are supported to deliver the on-field success that rugby fans demand and deserve.
“The new [collective bargaining agreement] is the first of its kind to incorporate all professional programmes, including our Sevens teams and the Wallaroos, and importantly addresses key issues of pay equality and player welfare.”