The players have made significant concessions
Pay cuts and salary caps have become a reality for Australia's top players, as the country looks to arrest its crumbling economic situation.
The Australian Rugby Union confirmed that the Wallaby players accepted a 23 percent cut in their Test match fee from AU$13,100 (US$12,700) per game to AU$10 000 over the next four years.
The ARU, whose coffers were only partially replenished by this year's British and Irish Lions tour, have engaged in a raft of cost-cutting measures since new chief executive Bill Pulver took over earlier this year.
The ARU, the Rugby Union Players' Association and the five Australian Super Rugby franchises on Wednesday signed off on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to replace the last deal struck almost a decade ago.
The new deal also includes a AU$5-million (US$4,8-million) annual salary cap for each of the five Australian Super Rugby franchises.
"This agreement has been achieved through a culture of collaboration and partnership between players and ARU to generate strategies to address the game's current challenges," Pulver said in a statement.
"This deal is arguably the most significant of its kind since rugby turned professional in 1995.
"The players have acted with integrity and maturity throughout the negotiations and their support for the game warrants acknowledgement by the Australian rugby community."
The Agreement also provides for an increase in the players' share of Gross Player Revenue (GPR) from 26 percent to 29 percent and an overall increase in the game's investment to players' education and welfare.
It is also the first CBA between the parties to include minimum workplace standards for the Australian Men's and Women's Sevens squads and the first time women have been formally recognised in an employment agreement for Rugby in Australia.
RUPA Chief Executive Officer, Greg Harris, said the Agreement is the culmination of more than two years of discussions between players and ARU.
"The player Directors on the RUPA Board - Wallabies Captain James Horwill, Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Matt Hodgson and President, Adam Wallace-Harrison, deserve significant credit for what is a fair and equitable outcome for the players and the game," said Harris.
"The players have made significant concessions in this deal to ensure that Rugby will be a stronger game for those who follow in their footsteps.
"The significant contribution the players make to the game has been recognised by formalising an increase in the player's share of revenue and by increasing the minimum salaries paid to players over the period of the Agreement."
Wallaby Captain and RUPA Board Director James Horwill said it's no secret Rugby in Australia is dealing with some challenging financial and performance issues.
"As players, we really hope that some of the new structures and strategies in the new CBA can really re-establish and strengthen Rugby in Australia."
Key features of the new CBA include:
* Reduced Test Match payments for Wallabies from AU$13,100 in 2013 to AU$10,000 in 2014 and 2015 for all players. In 2016 and 2017, Test Match payments for Wallabies will remain AU$10,000 for Nationally Contracted (‘Top-up') players, while non-Nationally Contracted players will receive AU$12,000 per Test Match.
* Reduced assembly allowances for training camps and Test Matches for Wallabies.
* Inclusion of Super Rugby team salary caps in the CBA for the first time - AU$5 million per club per season.
* Increase players' share of Gross Player Revenue (GPR) from 26 percent to 29 percent.
* Increase the minimum individual player salaries as below:
* Players to allow ARU to retain any GPR underpayment from the significant 2013 operating surplus.
* The adoption of a Gross Player Revenue ‘ledger' to balance out the total minimum player payment obligations of the ARU over the four year period of the CBA.
* Agreement to design a player draft for first year professional contracts, which will operate in conjunction with new Super Rugby Development Squads.
* A Memorandum of Understanding which includes minimum terms and conditions for the employment of National Men's and Women's Sevens players.
* Introduction of a specific Long Service Leave policy for professional players for the first time.
* Increased ARU investment in player education and welfare, including provision for the introduction of a new cultural diversity program designed to help Indigenous and Pacific Island players.
* Agreement on the need to improve player development pathways in Australia through a commitment to a national Rugby competition.