Wallabies players could have Test payments slashed by $6000 or more this year as part of a collective bargaining agreement that is also likely to ensure all Australian players remain on 100 per cent of their base salaries in 2021.
Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association are yet to sign off on a new CBA, which expired at the end of last year.
The Wallabies look on after their draw agains Argentina in December last year. Credit:Getty
While there has been no official confirmation on what will change this year, multiple sources have told the Herald that an in-principle agreement has been reached and that documentation is with the Super Rugby franchises, which could be given the tick of approval in coming weeks.
Previous CBAs have been multi-year arrangements, however, RA and RUPA have decided that given the precarious situation around COVID-19 and uncertainty over the game’s financial state, a one-year rollover was the best option.
All players were forced to take pay cuts at various stages in 2020, with Super Rugby players not involved in Wallabies duty having their salaries reduced to 70 per cent in the final quarter of the year. Those in a gold jersey, and in the wider Wallabies squad, remained on full pay.
The good news is all Australia-based players are tipped to return to full pay in 2021 with savings to be made at the top end.
While not formally signed off on yet, sources have told the Herald a significant adjustment to Test payments is on the cards.
It is understood as part of the last CBA, Wallabies players on RA contracts received $10,000 Test payments, while non-RA contracted players took home about $12,000 a Test.
However, it is understood roughly half of these match payments could be wiped, and potentially even more depending on where discussions land.
For a non-contracted player who features in every Test in 2021 – the Wallabies could line up in as many as 15 Tests this year – it equates to a loss of roughly $90,000.
However, sources say senior Wallabies figures have agreed that in order to retain talent across the board and ensure contracts are honoured, they will forgo a portion of their lucrative match payments.
The Wallabies are set to face France in three Tests in July but the international calendar is still in the air given borders remain closed.
Another adjustment in the CBA is likely to involve Wallabies squad sizes. Up to 44 players assembled last year under coach Dave Rennie and although this was in part due to COVID-19 and needing bigger squads to cover unexpected injuries, officials are keen for a return to smaller groups in order to save costs.
The Wallabies won just one of six Tests in 2020 but drew three matches.
Super Rugby squad sizes are also set to be tweaked, with a reduced cap on the number of players required on the books.
The Waratahs, Brumbies, Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force are all hard at work in pre-season ahead of Super Rugby AU, which kicks off on February 19.
RA is confident the 12-week tournament will go ahead as scheduled despite border closures that could prevent teams getting in and out of Western Australia.
Charter flights are expected to be used like last year for the competition to run smoothly. Nine and Stan Sport will broadcast the competition.
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