NRL and RLPA Agree to Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2018-22

3rd November 2017

The NRL and RLPA today announced an historic Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will deliver the best deal to players in the game’s history. The $980 million deal will deliver extra funding for the player retirement fund, for players forced into early retirement due to injury, a world class wellbeing and education program, and guaranteed leave entitlements.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast said the deal signalled the start of a genuine partnership between the game and the players. “For the first time, our players will receive a 29.5% share of forecast game revenue, as well as a share of any out-performance revenue,” Mr Greenberg said. “In other words, the better the game performs, the more the players will receive. “And players will share in any financial out-performance at the same time and on the same basis as grassroots and Clubs – a true partnership to take the game forward.”

Mr Prendergast said the agreement ensured players received a fair share of revenue for their significant contribution to the sport – both on the field and off the field. “This is an outstanding deal for the entire game of Rugby League,” Prendergast said.

“For the first time in the history of the sport, the interests of players, the NRL, Clubs and States will be aligned – incentivising all parties to work together in taking this great game forward. “The contribution that players make to the record levels of revenue coming into the game has been recognised under the CBA, with the players’ benefits also directly linked to the overall success of the NRL in the future.”

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • A 52 per cent increase in take-home pay for players over the next five years
  • A revised contracting and payment model that provides more certainty, clarity and protection for players
  • The average wage of a top 30 player will rise to $330,000 a year while the minimum wage will be increased to $100,000 next year and $120,000 in 2022
  • The salary cap will rise to $9.4 million next year and more than $10 million in 2022
  • A new Injury Hardship Fund will be set up to support players facing early retirement due to serious injury, replacing the Career Ending Injury Insurance scheme
  • Additional time-off during the week for personal development and more certainty around annual leave entitlements
  • An allocation of $3.75 million for the elite women’s game – with the NRL and RLPA working together on new women’s programs to enable more females to play Rugby League
  • Increased Integrity safeguards to minimise risks to the game
  • The RLPA and players to have a greater role in the running of the game

    Mr Greenberg and Mr Prendergast said it reflected the professionalism of players, Clubs and the NRL that the agreement had been reached in a timely fashion and without any industrial unrest. “Indeed, the parties remained on excellent terms throughout the entire negotiation process,” Mr Prendergast said. “We look forward to moving ahead in partnership with the NRL and Clubs, utilising the strong level of engagement that the RLPA has with our members, to assist in ensuring the game prospers in the future.” Mr Greenberg said the game was now better positioned than at any time in its history. He said the record level of club funding should ensure the financial future of every team in the NRL. “Now the players have a record level of funding and we will deliver a huge boost to grassroots as well. “So we will move into the 2018 season in better shape than ever before.”

    RLPA General President, Cameron Smith endorsed the new CBA deal and commended the playing group for their show of solidarity throughout the negotiations. “The new CBA is a win for not only players, but for the entire NRL community,” Smith said. “This deal will assist in the continual growth of the sport because for the first time ever, we will be genuinely recognised as partners in the game. “I’m extremely proud of the way the entire playing group united behind the RLPA throughout the lengthy negotiation process – it’s a great sign that the players are engaged and willing to drive positive change within the sport. “The next phase for all parties now is to commit to working together and building trust in the partnership, which will take shape over coming years.”

    NRL Revised $9.4 million Salary Cap - Detail

    NRL clubs have agreed on August 17 in a two hour meeting at League Central to increase the salary cap to $9.4 million next year, but it needed to be signed off by game's players association. Clubs had been split down the middle about next year's cap figure, with as many as nine saying that it should not be lifted above the $9.2 million as indicated back in April. Others, had pushed for it to go as high as $9.6 million. After a two hour meeting at League Central they voted uninamously on the increase.

    Here is a list of the key changes -

  • Increase in the size of the NRL top squad from 25 players to 30 players. Plus 6 development players.
  • A salary cap increase $2.4 mil or 34%
  • $9.1 million Top 30 base salary cap for Season 2018 increasing to $9.7m in season 2022
  • Minimum Top 30 payment of $100,000 for players 1-26 in 2018 increasing at $5,000 p.a until 2022. $70,000 for players 27-30 in 2018 increasing at $2,500 p.a until 2022
  • Replacement of the NRL second tier salary cap with the NRL Development List where players will be entitled to $60,000 p.a.
  • There is no longer a U20s NYC salary cap.

    The following is the breakdown of the new 2018 Salary Cap in detail -

  • $9.1 million – base salary cap for the Top 30 players. At least 24 Top 30 players must be contracted by 1 November, 29 Top 30 players by 1 March and 30 Top 30 players by 30 June.
  • $200,000 – Veteran and Developed Player Allowance for eligible players who were either developed by the Club prior to becoming NRL players and / or have been a Top 30 player for at least 8 years at the Club or have been a Top 30 player for at least 10 years across the game
  • $100,000 - Motor Vehicle Allowance – a maximum amount of five motor vehicles may be provided to players in the Top 30 outside of the salary cap. (Valued at $20,000 each).

    Outside of the main salary cap the NRL will also contribute -

  • $300,000 per team - Paid by the NRL to the RLPA towards players' Retirement Account Contribution.
  • $100,000 per team - Paid by the NRL to the RLPA towards their administration funding.

    Player can also earn outside the salary cap the following, but must be approved -

  • Unlimited Third Party Agreements - Players can earn unlimited amounts from corporate sponsors who are not associated with the club and who do not use the game's intellectual property (no club logos, jerseys or emblems) provided these are pre-approved by both a Player’s Club and the NRL. These agreements may not be negotiated by the club as an incentive for a player to sign a contract, nor can they be guaranteed by the club.
  • Tertiary education fees (TAFE and University)
  • Approved traineeships
  • Medical insurance costs
  • Reasonable relocation/temporary accommodation costs
  • Payments from representative games
  • Prize Money

    For players in the Top 30 Salary Cap, the Salary Cap value for a player each year is broken down into the following categories:

  • Playing Fee – fully included in the Salary Cap.
  • Included benefits – all benefits provided to players including accommodation, travel, motor vehicles, interest free loans and manager's fees and any applicable fringe benefits tax.
  • Win bonuses and appearance fees – Payments for appearing in or winning a game are calculated based on the number of NRL games the player played in the prior year multiplied by any applicable bonuses. For win bonuses, the calculation is capped at 13 wins. Example: A player appeared in 10 NRL games in 2017 and now has a 2018 Contract for $100,000 contract fee plus $1,000 per game. His - Salary Cap Value would be $100,000 plus 10 times $1000 = $110,000.
  • Other bonuses – Any other bonus contained in a player's contract will be calculated in the Salary Cap if the NRL Salary Cap Auditor expects him to achieve the bonus based on his prior year's performance.

    NRL, RLPA agree to scrap cooling-off periods under CBA

    13th December 2017

    Players switching clubs will no longer be able to have a change of heart after signing on the dotted line, with the NRL and RLPA agreeing to scrap the controversial 10-day cooling-off period for new contracts. The NRL has been tinkering with its protocols around player movement over recent years, but it was the public outcry from player backflips.

    Players used to be allowed to back out of contracts before June 30, before changing it to a round 13 deadline. The NRL then changed the protocols to allow players 10 days to change their minds, not allowing clubs to announce the signature until after the period lapsed or the players waived their right to the 10-day timeframe.

    Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association have agreed to scrap all measures providing players with the opportunity to pull out of a deal. It’s believed the move will take some of the power away from player managers, whose sway in the game has only increased over the years.

    “Removing the 10-day cooling-off period from player contracts was something we agreed to through the CBA negotiations,” RLPA general counsel Tim Lythe said. “In our view, a deal is a deal, and this process needed to be improved as it created unnecessary tension within the cooling-off period between clubs and players. This provision has proved detrimental to both clubs and players on occasions. “Having players and clubs commit to the contract once it’s signed increases the integrity of the entire player recruitment and negotiation process.” The NRL is pleased with the decision, comfortable with the fact players won’t be allowed to wriggle out of contracts. “As part of the new CBA, it was agreed that there will be no cooling-off period for the registering of contracts,” an NRL spokesman said. “It was the NRL’s view that once a decision is made and a contract is signed, it should be final, as is the case in other industries and professions.”

    NRL Developed Players 10% Salary Cap Discount

    26th February 2018

    NRL issued a clarification statement on the development players. Each club is allowed three-to-six players on a development list, who can be paid up to $60,000 each but are not permitted to play in the NRL Premiership without approval from the salary cap auditor. This is only likely to be granted if the club does not have any player in their 30-man NRL squad capable of playing a certain position and wants to use one of the rookies.

    Players on a development contract for two years are entitled to an annual 10 per cent salary cap discount for the duration of their careers provided they remain with that club.