A new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Rugby Australia (RA), the five Super Rugby Clubs and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) has been finalised and will run from 2023 until the end of 2026.
The sixth CBA for Australian Rugby is a major step forward after the last agreement from 2020-22 was severely impacted by the effects of the COVID pandemic, resulting in Players, Super Rugby Clubs and Rugby Australia working collaboratively to navigate the challenges.
The new CBA includes a structured return to at least pre-COVID Player payments and benefits, important first steps in the professionalisation of the Women’s game, and is constructed to manage any major commercial and financial growth that will come from the 2025 British and Irish Lions Tour, two Rugby World Cups at home and other future revenue participation interests.
Bonus structures will be reinstated for international events such as The Rugby Championship, the Bledisloe Cup, British & Irish Lions Tour, and Rugby World Cups, while Super Rugby and Sevens Players will see minimum salaries raised and an increased investment in the Player’s Career-Ending Insurance Policy, an industry leading safety net for Players.
Rugby’s Player Development Program (PDP) has been bolstered, with further investment, clearer accountability and responsibilities across its management – supporting the growth of Players and teams both on and off the field.
A PDP Advisory Committee will be established to oversee delivery of the ‘Advantage Line’ program that is designed to develop Players to be better equipped to face each stage of their career and their transition into retirement.
Both parties have also committed to a modern fit-for-purpose commercial schedule that enables the sport to maximise its commercial return, and promote its Players, clubs, and national teams, while protecting the rights, and clearly outlining the obligations of all parties regarding the image and performance data of Players.
Rugby Australia has previously announced the first stage of a five-year strategy in the professionalisation of the Women’s XVs at the elite level, increasing compensation for Players in a sustainable manner as the sport looks forward to future financial growth that will flow down to all areas of the game.
The new steps for the women’s game will see an additional two million dollars invested into Women’s XVs, with a new centralised contracting structure for Buildcorp Wallaroos Players and minimum payments for all Buildcorp Super W Players.
For the Wallaroos, a list of up to 35 Players will be contracted across three tiers, with the potential to earn between $30,000 and $52,000 in RA payments for Wallaroos and Super W participation combined in 2023.
A parenting and pregnancy guideline has been agreed in principle – contracted Wallaroos Players will receive their full contract amount for the year while on maternity leave.
All Buildcorp Super W Players will receive an RA-funded minimum payment of $4,000 in addition to club payments for the five-rounds-plus-Finals Super W season.
The additional funding from RA will also cover new investment into the High-Performance programs at Super W clubs to enhance the coaching, strength and conditioning, medical and performance environments.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos:
“We are delighted to have agreed a new four-year deal that provides all stakeholders with certainty, especially after the challenges we faced through COVID and a series of short-term renewals.
“The new CBA has been agreed with a commitment to greater investment in Players, programs, competitions and structures over the next ten years and beyond. It is critically important to both RA and RUPA to ensure that the Community game is supported to flourish and fuel the performance system.
“We continue to make progress with the Women’s XVs, providing certainty around payments to Players at Wallaroos and Super W level for the season ahead.
“Whilst this investment is an improvement on what we have been able to do in the past, this is just the first step in our commitment to continued investment to professionalise the Women’s game in a sustainable and hopefully very successful way.
“I would like to thank the Super Rugby Clubs, the Players, Justin and the RUPA management for the spirit in which the negotiations took place – it is clear that we all have an aligned focus on ensuring the continued growth of Rugby in Australia.
“Importantly, we must thank all the Players for the sacrifices that have been made during the COVID crisis – we are proud of the professional playing group in Australia, and we look forward to a successful future together in Rugby.”
Rugby Union Players Association CEO Justin Harrison:
“The Rugby Union ecosystem has dealt with many challenges in recent times, this sixth CBA presents a document and framework that is living – it recognises there are still challenges to be met and overcome, it has the capacity to remain agile in the changing landscape of sport and the workplace conditions and commercial relationship of the Players with the game.
“The Players have brought a problem solving and partnership approach to this agreement, it provides a platform from which the game can enter a new period of opportunity and excellence.
“Player involvement and engagement is vital for the game, this CBA provides the scaffolding for the game to understand and achieve its High-Performance aspirations whilst supporting the Players in their workplace conditions.
“RUPA is committed to ensuring that the Player journey through the sport of Rugby Union is a rewarding and supportive experience.”
Western Force CEO Tony Lewis:
“The new CBA commits greater investment to the Players, and in turn the Super Rugby clubs’ structures over the next four years.
“It is critically important that the club investment is secured to assist the development of the elite player and team performance in both Men’s and Women’s.
“The Super Rugby clubs have worked tirelessly to ensure that the professional playing group in Australia have the elite structures in place to grow the game, the players and ensure success on the playing field and we look forward to an ongoing successful partnership, working with Rugby Australia and the Players.”
Rugby Union Players Association President David Porecki:
“The Players acknowledge their role as partners in the game and the new CBA provides a degree of stability and certainty for the playing group by safeguarding guidelines and frameworks of the conditions in which we operate.
“This agreement ensures that every Player’s core conditions of employment continue to improve with every new season, prioritising wellbeing through a range of initiatives which are designed to ensure that Players are given every opportunity off the field.”