Australia

Wallabies poised for pay cuts

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 18:06
Will-genia-hands-on-head2 Bill-pulver-aru Jameshorwilllions
We're going to be skating on thin ice
Quote-end

Wallaby players are expected to accept pay cuts to help the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) from going broke.

The ARU are on its last financial legs, having recorded a reported $19 million deficit in the past two years, with not even the boost from the British and Irish Lions tour in June able to get the union out of the red.  

The Wallabies’ poor form - winning just three of their nine Tests this year - have affected attendances and sponsorship deals, while Rugby Union has been waning in popularity in recent times Down Under.

As a result, Bill Pulver, since replacing John O'Neill as the union's chief executive eight months ago, has been doing intense damage control and has now turned his focus to the issue of player salaries.

''My first six months at the ARU, a lot of my time has been spent ripping costs out of the place, basically,'' Pulver told AAP.

''It's not been a lot of fun but it's been a very important cleansing experience.

''From a financial perspective we're going to be skating on thin ice for the next couple of years. Can we get through? Yes, we can. Is it going to be bloody hard? Yes, it is.''

Currently, Wallaby players are reportedly guaranteed $14 000 a Test - win, lose or draw - and stand to earn $196 000 on top of their salaries if they play in all 15 Tests this year.     

The ARU board meets with the Rugby Union Players Association on Monday to discuss the negotiations, with a new agreement expected to be finalised in the next two months.

Players' association boss Greg Harris said: ''Player directors have been united in their commitment in trying to assist the game in trying to confront the financial issues.''

Harris suggested that top players have benefited substantially since the last agreement was drafted in 2005, when the ARU boasted capital of $35 million and Rugby Union was at the peak of its powers in Australia.

''My predecessor [Tony Dempsey] did a very good job of negotiating for the players when the dams were full, but we have a drought at the moment,'' said Harris.

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