Rugby Australia and RUPA agree to amended collective bargaining agreement

by Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) are pleased to announce the execution of a COVID-19 enforced extension to an amended Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The amended CBA is effective immediately and runs through to the end of 2021 and provides clarity for all professional Rugby stakeholders ahead of the new Super Rugby AU season. 

The agreement also allows Australian Rugby’s new leaders to start their stewardship from a united and secure foundation with security for the professional players, as the game begins its new era.

The amended  CBA maintains all professional players within its scope, including the Wallabies, Wallaroos, all Super Rugby players and both Australian Rugby Sevens squads. 

The amendments have significantly reduced the Wallaby player payment pool, with an anticipated saving of $2.5 million per annum, to allow for all players to return to full pay from 1 January 2021, and at the same time enhancing Wallaroos support payments for their Rugby World Cup year. 

Another feature of the amended agreement is that RUPA will be extensively consulted as part of any future changes to the Super Tournament/(s). As part of the extensive consultation, RUPA will have a seat on any Rugby AU committee, commission or discussion group responsible for considering and/or making decisions regarding any changes to the Super Tournament.

Minimum squad sizes have been reduced as well as the minimum number of nationally contracted players.

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “I want to thank RUPA CEO Justin Harrison and his team for a robust and reasonable negotiation and extend my gratitude to the professional players who have embraced their responsibility in managing the game through the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

“We are now built to not just survive but to thrive in this COVID affected sporting landscape, with the reduction in minimum squad requirements providing teams with the ability to flexibly manage their own financial implications. 

“We look forward to working closely with RUPA in establishing a new CBA for 2022 and beyond, and continue to address the key issues of pay equality, player’s welfare and high-performance objectives,” Marinos said.

RUPA President Matt To’omua said: “I would like to commend Rugby Australia for the spirit of these negotiations, which have happened during a time of great uncertainty and upheaval but have always been respectful, transparent and fair.”

“The players are passionate about the game in Australia and want to see it succeed on-and-off the field on a consistent basis. We’re also acutely aware of the broader impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on society as a whole and acknowledge our fortunate position as professional players that are well supported by values-led organisations.

“We too are excited about the upcoming negotiations for the 2022 CBA, as well as the bright future ahead for our game,” To’omua said.

RUPA Chief Executive Justin Harrison said: “Australia’s professional rugby players have again recognised their responsibility in ensuring the financial security of the game and are steadfast in that commitment. 

“I would like to acknowledge the ongoing partnership between Rugby Australia and RUPA, with particular mention to Ben Whitaker, Adam Foulsham and Hamish McLennan for their forthright and transparent approach. 

“We all have a common goal for Rugby in Australia, a unity of purpose and the pragmatic, transparent and collaborative approach adopted by all parties will continue to allow for positive change,’’ Harrison said.

Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson said: It's great to have the new agreement finalised in advance of what's going to be an exciting year for Rugby in Australia." 

"It was really important to have all parties come together in the best interests of the game and come to a united decision, especially after what was a challenging year for all of us in 2020," Thomson said.