RLPA Players Claims

20th January 2022

The following is a summary from the RLPA of the player claims.

Players are excluded from workers compensation legislation. In the current CBA players only have 12 months to have any surgeries and rehabilitation paid for that will help fix the injuries they suffered during their careers. The players want the game’s first Medical Support Fund to ensure past NRL and NRLW players can have these surgeries covered well into retirement.

NRLW players don’t have one and they deserve one. A CBA for women would provide the contract security players need and the full terms and conditions that would help protect them and their families. A CBA would give the game the best opportunity to attract and retain our talent.

The average NRL career is less than 45 games. Making your way into the NRL and NRLW and building a career is tough, you need to be supported to make it happen. Players need better training wages, better minimum salaries, more contracts and contract certainty, match fees and transition benefits – all to support players but specifically middle and lower-income earners.

What the game does now is not enough. Players’ careers are getting shorter, and the game is faster and harder. It can all be over at any moment, and you don’t always get to choose when that moment is. We need to help NRL & NRLW players transition into life beyond the playing field.

Players need to agree to all core terms of employment. Once they are agreed, they shouldn’t be able to be changed again without the players’ agreement. Those are basic and common employment rights. Players should have them. Agreement rights include hours worked (obligations), number of matches played, wage structures, when players can secure a contract, pregnancy and parental policies, and fines (which are illegal in other workplaces).

It needs to account for the additional eligible players (more than 250 across 10 women’s teams and The Dolphins) coming into the CBA model. It needs to be expanded to also support players who suffer serious injuries and can’t secure a new contract until fully rehabilitated.

Players, clubs and states generate the money for the game. It is reasonable for players to have a fair share of the revenue they bring in. If players help the game generate more money than it expects, they should get their fair share. That share isn’t just going into salaries. Players want it to fund new programs and benefits that will support current, future and past players.

Ref - RLPA [Viewed 21 Jan 2023]

RLPA Players Desires

24th January 2022

A number of other claims have emerged during the week.

The growing concern over concussions and the need to look after players whose careers are cut short by head knocks has emerged as one of the biggest sticky points.

What the RLPA want -

  • A seat at the table when it comes to making any employment related changes during the current CBA, including any proposed increases to fines, changing the length of the season, and policies relating to criminal proceedings.
  • An increased injury hardship fund, which will now need to cover more than 250 extra players because of the arrival of the Dolphins and 10 NRLW teams.
  • A new medical support fund, which allows players to have surgeries and rehabilitation covered more than 12 months after they retire.
  • A new collective barganing agreement for the NRLW
  • Better training wages, an increased minimum wage and match fees
  • Better post-career programs to help players transition into normal life once they stop playing

    Ref - SMH [Viewed 25 Jan 2023]

    NRL NRLW Pregancy and Parental, Health Insurance Clarification

    31st Jan 2023

    The NRL has clarified its position on the NRLW pregnancy and parental policy, and private health insurance. The NRL has moved to provide clarity in regards to incorrect and misleading statements made on social media concerning the NRLW pregnancy and parental policy, and private health insurance.

    The NRL has an absolute focus on ensuring progressive and contemporary support mechanisms and playing conditions for NRLW players who are pregnant or new parents.

    The NRL, NRLW Clubs and the RLPA have been working together since October 2022 on a new NRLW Pregnancy and Parental Leave policy that includes the following:

  • Providing parents with both paid and unpaid support in caring for their children up to the age of 24 months;
  • NRL financial support of paid player parental cover per season;
  • NRL financial support for replacement players for pregnancy replacement;
  • Pregnant players will have contract security
  • Players will be able to move to a safe job

    The RLPA also requested private health insurance for both men and women be funded through the salary cap and paid by players. The NRL acknowledged this request, and provided a 10.5% increase to the women’s salary cap to accommodate this request. The NRL and NRLW clubs have also been working to facilitate contract security and multi-year contracts to allow players longer term security. The NRL has respected the sensitive nature of confidential discussions, however, misleading and false information has been damaging to the process.

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 2 Feb 2023]

    RLPA Statement on NRLW Preganancys

    31st Jan 2023

    In response to commentary and releases about the players’ CBA negotiations (specifically an NRLW pregnancy and carer’s policy and Private Health Insurance), this is the RLPA’s position on how the last few months have unfolded: The RLPA developed the first Pregnancy and Parental Leave policy for consideration in bargaining. The NRL rejected that draft policy. The RLPA then received an NRL pregnancy and carer’s policy in October, but it was rejected by the RLPA because it was not substantial enough and its coverage was inadequate. The NRL then requested further clarification and information on the RLPA’s policy. The RLPA provided that information but heard nothing from the NRL until receiving its CBA proposal which made it clear that the NRL would not agree to a policy as part of the CBA. The NRL would only consult with the RLPA on the development of the policy – no such policy was included in the NRL‘s most recent CBA proposal for review. The RLPA has again reiterated the need for this fundamental policy to be agreed and form part of the NRLW CBA. The RLPA did propose that private health insurance would be funded through the salary cap, conditional upon agreement to the players’ proposed financial model, including the revenue share, NRLW salary cap and NRL minimum salary (all significantly higher than what the NRL announced publicly), and standardised match fees for all players. Those conditions have not been met. We are in agreeance on multi-season contracts, however we do not agree with the NRL’s position of six (6) month contracts in 2023 and a changing of the mode under the term.

    Ref - RLPA [Viewed 2 Feb 2023]

    RLPA Threaten Pre-Season Games

    8th Feb 2023

    The RLPA has sent its players a list of actions they will take if the the NRL do not meet certain demands by tomorrow

    These include -

  • Refuse to participate in all external media
  • Delay kick off at trials
  • Cover NRL logos at trials

    Second CBA Mediator Appointed

    13th Feb 2023

    A former News Corporation and Fairfax Media executive has emerged as the key figure in breaking rugby league’s collective bargaining agreement stalemate, parachuted into the role as lead negotiator between the NRL and the game’s stars. Brett Clegg, who spent time as News Corporation’s managing director of publishing as well as boss of The Australian Financial Review, has emerged as the man desperately trying to broker peace in the increasingly fraught negotiations. Clegg has recently taken on the role vacated by former Nine Entertainment Co boss Hugh Marks, who was leading talks before taking leave to concentrate on his business interests last year. The involvement of an independent facilitator in Clegg is thought to have helped progress talks, which included NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo and Rugby League Players’ Association boss Clint Newton meeting late into Thursday night on key areas of the NRLW competition. Clegg’s intervention has been considered critical to solving the CBA impasse, which has already seen players threaten to delay kick-off times to pre-season challenge matches, cover NRL logos on jerseys and refuse all media requests. The players backed down from carrying out the protests during the first weekend of trial matches, but have indicated they will consider reviewing their position again for round two of the two-week competition, which carries a $100,000 winner’s purse. The RLPA is arguing for about $90 million over five years to spend at their own discretion on injury hardship, medical retirement and wellbeing programs, but the NRL is unlikely to hand over control of such a large amount of money.

    Ref - RLPA [Viewed 2 Feb 2023]

    Reports of NRL Revised CBA offer

    15th Feb 2023

    There are media reports that the NRL has tabled a revised CBA offer, after a in-principal agreement was made for the NRLW CBA on February 14.

    RLPA Clarification of NRL Offers

    16th Feb 2023

    There are reports the NRL has presented a revised CBA to the RLPA proposal.

    To clarify confusing media reporting, the RLPA has not received a new financial offer from the ARL Commission and NRL in 2023. For the avoidance of doubt:

    A financial offer from the ARLC is a total figure that captures all the players’ salaries, benefits and funding for programs. The last financial offer the RLPA received from the ARLC and NRL was on December 23rd 2022 for $1.347bn. The financial offer on December 23rd 2022 for $1.347bn is the same figure that has been reported today as a new offer.

    In January 2023, the RLPA sent a counter-proposal to the ARLC and NRL. This counter-proposal did not request any additional money above the ARLC’s financial offer from December 2022. The ARLC financial proposal was recycled and positioned as new information to the media. Given the relative progress that was made during last week’s negotiations, as well as Tuesday’s official announcement of an in-principle agreement for NRLW financial terms, this does not help either party make further progress. The RLPA’s counter-proposal, which does not request any additional money from the ARLC, is still before the NRL and is capable of acceptance. We remain actively involved in bargaining this week. We will continue to negotiate on key areas important to players, including RLPA autonomy and agreement rights on core terms and conditions. There is still much more work to do as we continue to negotiate a joint CBA for NRLW and NRL players which captures all their terms and conditions.

    Ref - RLPA [Viewed 4 Aug 2023]

    NRL Cancels 2023 Season Launch

    21st Feb 2023

    On Tuesday, nine days before the first game of the 2023 men's season, the NRL announced the traditional event to mark the upcoming season would not be happening this year. "Due to the ongoing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations, the NRL will not hold a season launch function this Thursday as originally planned," the NRL said in a statement. The NRL remains focused on making positive progress regarding the joint NRL and NRLW agreements."

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 22 Feb 2023]

    NRL Proposes Transfer Window Change

    26th Feb 2023

    The NRL has flagged delaying the period in which players can pen a contract with another team by eight months. Under the current rules they are allowed to sign for another club from November 1, but the NRL has argued for a major overhaul preventing any movement for the following year until June 30.

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 27 Feb 2023]

    RLPA Settlement Proposal

    17th May 2023

    The Rugby League Players’ Association has provided the NRL with a proposed settlement to the long-running collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Parties were recently encouraged to take the initiative and compromise, and the players have chosen to do that with this settlement proposal. The RLPA is confident the proposed settlement will break the current impasse, improve and enhance player welfare and give the NRL the freedom and resources it needs to grow the game. Importantly, the proposed settlement will not cost the NRL another dollar beyond what has already been agreed. The RLPA has made a range of concessions to allow the NRL to grow its asset base and pursue commercial agreements that will benefit everyone involved in the sport. The RLPA would like to thank its Board for guidance and our player members for the professionalism they have shown in carefully considering the agreement, and for making significant compromises to reach this position. The player leaders of the RLPA are fully supportive of the settlement proposal and details of it have been provided to all members of the Association. We have begun the settlement process this week following members of key parties returning to Australia, and with the goal of reaching agreement by the first Men’s and Women’s State of Origin games. We look forward to presenting the proposed settlement to the NRL before reaching agreement. We believe that this important proposal will cement a historic agreement for the good of rugby league and its clubs, players and fans.

    Under the settlement proposal plan, players won't share in any above forecast revenue until the NRL secures an asset base of $300 mil, or at the end of the fourth year(2026) of the new agreement. The RLPA has also conceeded it will reduce the total player payment pools if the game's revenue drops by more than $10 mil under forecast in any year.

    Ref - RLPA [Viewed 4 Aug 2023]

    RLPA rejects NRL erosion of CBA Settlement following agreement with Clubs

    9th Jun 2023

    The Rugby League Players’ Association Directors and Members will not accept any erosion of the players’ CBA settlement proposal, and we are resolute and united in not giving any ground in any further negotiations. The RLPA Board met on Wednesday this week to discuss the status of negotiations following critical meetings on Monday and Tuesday this week between the RLPA, Clubs and the NRL. The Board reinforced its desire to reach an agreement, however, an agreement can not come at the expense of players going backwards from their settlement position. Following this week’s CBA meetings, there was clear communication amongst stakeholders that the Clubs (the employers of the players) and the RLPA have agreed on all matters that are specific to Clubs and Players, including key changes to contracting rules and regulations. The ability of the RLPA and Clubs to problem-solve this week was pleasing and advanced us closer to an agreement that gives the players, Clubs and game the certainty it deserves. Problem-solving is not erosion, and the RLPA and Club compromises were made on trust and fairness for both parties. It is now up to the NRL management team to approach our settlement proposal with the same mindset. However, there is a distinct lack of confidence in NRL management’s decision-making capabilities and their ability to be given a proper mandate (unlike the empowered representatives of the RLPA and Club Working Group in meetings). Importantly, the RLPA and players have not requested any more money from the NRL and ARL Commission since December 2022. This was reflected in our settlement proposal and the players’ position of conceding to the NRL and ARLC up to $300m of above-forecast revenue to build an asset base for the game. Our settlement proposal is comprehensive and drafted with due care following a CBA negotiation that has unfairly dragged on for 19 months. This was the first time a proposal of such a form had been tabled in negotiations that contained the appropriate and necessary detail on the players’ terms and conditions for the next five years. Failing further negotiations and meetings, our settlement proposal remains on the table for acceptance, ready to be signed by the NRL and ARLC and ratified by the NRL and NRLW playing groups.

    However, as we believe there is no prospect of reaching an agreement this week, it is paramount that we give the Clubs and players immediate certainty. We will work in partnership with clubs on the 2018-22 CBA rollover terms and our interpretation of the NRL’s Salary Cap that is not CBA-agreed. All our positions are clear, documented and in the hands of the NRL. The RLPA remains open to moving closer to reaching a landmark agreement for our code. However, it is now on the NRL to provide more certainty on their positions rather than muddying the waters on all outstanding matters.

    Ref - RLPA [Viewed 6 Jul 2023]

    RLPA Media Boycott over Stalled CBA Negotiations

    5th Jul 2023

    After meeting with over 50 player leaders from all clubs last night (Tuesday), players have unanimously decided that they must take action as a result of the NRL’s unreasonable CBA ultimatum. In response to our fair and reasonable settlement proposal, where players made key concessions to benefit the game, the NRL made over 100 unreasonable and unacceptable changes to the proposal. The NRL’s response to our settlement proposal was presented to us by the ARL Commission as a take-it-or-leave-it offer and refusal to continue negotiations. The ARL Commission and NRL have effectively halted negotiations.

    Outside of agreeing with us that players’ salaries should be raised in line with the game’s revenues, the NRL and ARL Commission wants to take away player rights (medical information), exploit them (player property), control how they spend their money on player funds and benefits (allocation), and make players pay for things they shouldn’t have to (insurances that don’t benefit players). The NRL’s take-it-or-leave-it response included a raft of changes that would significantly restrict or reduce the rights of the players, leading to an unacceptable erosion of their rights.

    Rugby League players take risks every time they step onto the field. The average career is 40 games and it can be over in a second. We cannot stand by and allow the erosion of basic employment rights for men and women. This unreasonable ultimatum from the game’s administrators has forced players to take action that will see all players boycott media obligations on any day there is an NRL, NRLW or State of Origin match. On those days, players will only participate in content produced for club-owned media channels.

    The purpose of this player action is to force a change to the impasse in CBA negotiations through delivering three (3) critical outcomes:

  • A complete draft collective bargaining agreement with terms covering all NRL and NRLW players, ready for ratification by NRL and NRLW players. And in the interim:
  • The NRL and RLPA agree to commence meetings with an industrial relations mediator to reach an outcome on all unresolved matters.
  • The NRL needs to reinstate player pre-COVID entitlements as outlined in the original CBA (2018 – 2022), enabling players to receive their full entitlements.

    Dr. Deidre Anderson AM, Chair of the RLPA Board, said "Thank you for joining us today. I am here today as the Chair of the Rugby League Players’ Association, representing the NRL and NRLW players, to announce a difficult but necessary decision. The players have unanimously decided to take action in response to the current impasse in collective bargaining negotiations with the NRL and ARL Commission. Recently, the RLPA submitted a proposal to the NRL and ARL Commission that is fair, contains numerous concessions by players and does not ask for a single dollar more than what had already been agreed upon. Unfortunately, the NRL and ARL Commission responded with changes that deviated so significantly from our proposal that they restricted the rights of players to an unacceptable level. They also made it clear that their response was non-negotiable and not open for discussion. To make matters worse, the NRL and ARL Commission have determined that in the four months left of the CBA rollover period, they will only pay NRL players COVID-reduced benefits despite accepting the record revenue generated from the content players create. I want to emphasise the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in today. We are witnessing a disappointing breakdown in negotiations, and a blatant disregard for the rights and welfare of our players. This is a clear attempt to intimidate players into a deal that undermines their rights, their voice, and their control over their own careers and players agree unanimously that they will not roll over to union-busting tactics such as what we are witnessing. That is why, from Thursday 6 July, our players will be boycotting all broadcast and media engagements on days when NRL, NRLW, or State of Origin matches are scheduled. This includes pre-match, half-time, and post-match interviews, as well as press conferences and other media opportunities. Further details of the boycott, as well as the outcomes we are requesting from the NRL and ARL Commission, will be provided in a statement that will be released shortly. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the strength and courage of our players, particularly our NRLW athletes, who continue to break barriers and pave the way for future generations. As a woman in a leadership role within rugby league, I understand the significance of their presence and the importance of their voices being heard. Our sport, our players, and our fans deserve better. We stand with them, and we urge the NRL and ARL Commission to do the same."

    Clint Newton OAM, CEO of the RLPA, said. "As the CEO of the Rugby League Players’ Association, I want to add to the Chair’s message and provide further context. I would like to thank the recent facilitator of the negotiations for his dedication to achieving a good outcome for all. However, negotiations now require a different approach. But his contribution is greatly appreciated. This issue hits home for me on a personal level. I have lived and breathed this sport; as a fan, player and administrator for as long as I can remember. I understand the sacrifices our players make and the risks they take every time they step onto the field. Their careers can be fleeting, and they deserve to have their rights and welfare protected. Over the 20 past months, we have seen a disturbing pattern of behaviour from the NRL and ARL Commission. What we have seen is a failure to respect the role of the players’ representative body, erosion of fundamental player rights and attempts to buy off players without understanding this CBA is about so much more than money. They have failed to honour their commitments in providing a CBA everyone can be proud of – one that respects the players’ irreplaceable role. They did not properly disclose financial information and payments owed to the players, and disregarded their collective concerns. The players have shown tremendous patience and goodwill throughout this process, but their trust and resolve have been tested time and time again.

    I want to be clear that we have been forced into this position and importantly our issue is not with the media. Unfortunately, unless we were prepared to fail in our obligations to appropriately represent and protect our members, the only choice we are left with is to take action. It’s important to understand that this action will be seen by some players as not hard enough, but for now, this is considered appropriate action given the NRLs take it or leave it position, which now rewinds much of the good outcomes we were optimistic about securing.

    We must also remember not to let this dispute overshadow the connection between the players and the fans. While there is no game without players, there is no profession without fans. Fans are the lifeblood of this game, and our players are dedicated to playing for them and providing the entertainment they deserve. They have a deep connection with the community because they too, all started their journey as a fan.

    We entered into negotiations with the hope of reaching a fair and reasonable agreement that addresses the needs and interests of all players. We made concessions, we engaged in good faith, and we presented a settlement proposal that did not ask for a single dollar more than what had already been agreed upon. Yet, the NRL responded with over 100 changes that would have sent players backward in many key areas. This response was unacceptable with clear erosion of player rights, including; taking away player rights (medical information), exploiting their player property, controlling how players spend their money on player funds and benefits, increase the amount of matches played without player agreement, and making players pay for things they shouldn’t have to (insurances that don’t benefit players). This player action is about safeguarding the integrity of the NRL and NRLW competitions and standing up for what is right. We urge the NRL and ARL Commission to come to the table and provide the players with a fair deal.

    As one of the leaders in our game, I am fearful and concerned about the trajectory of our game – with all major stakeholder agreements unsigned, unresolved and unannounced. These include the NRL and NRLW CBA, club licensing agreements, NSWRL and QRL member agreements, NRL and NRLW Grand Final venue and location, and International Rugby League schedule and structure. We need to come together and provide certainty for everyone, this must be a non-negotiable. Let us not forget, our game is the only game in world sport that started due to a workers’ and player rights dispute and more the 100yrs on here we are again except it’s with our own governing body. We are standing up and stepping forward to represent the will and conviction of the players and we will continue to stand firm for the benefit of current, past and future players and the overall health and success of the game."

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 6 Jul 2023]

    NRL Statement on the Stalled CBA Negotiations

    5th Jul 2023

    The NRL’s offer to the RLPA represents a landmark deal for the players. The NRL and Clubs have provided substantial improvement in player payments, benefits and conditions. The players will share an unprecedented $1.347 billion in total player payments from 2023-2027. This represents a 37.4% increase as compared to the $980 million total player payments agreed for 2018-2022.

    The NRL salary cap increases by 25.4% in 2023 alone and will reach $12.7 million by 2027. The minimum wage will progressively increase reaching $150,000 by 2027.

    Introduction of a past Player Medical Support program, Transition and Past Player programs and General Hardship Fund with a combined allocation of $10 million to establish these new programs. An expanded Injury Hardship Fund will be created, with a dedicated allocation of $9 million.

    An expanded and jointly managed Wellbeing & Education program will be available to all players with an allocation of $25 million.

    Beyond financial benefits, the Players will receive improved conditions compared to the previous CBA including increased mandatory leave and time off; opening of eligibility to play NRL to Supplementary List players; and mandated entry and exit medicals to ensure accurate medical data is kept up to date to better serve the recovery of players.

    The NRL has acknowledged the players’ concerns regarding the introduction of a ‘trade window’. While the NRL still believe it would be beneficial for the game, we acknowledged the resistance to the proposal. In order to get a deal done, we excluded the key elements the NRL was seeking for a trade window from its offer. The NRL is disappointed that the RLPA has decided to take this unnecessary action, which is damaging to the game and to the detriment of broadcast partners, sponsors and importantly fans.

    It is important to correct a number of statements made by the RLPA today that are incorrect. The RLPA stated that the NRL and ARLC are only paying NRL players the COVID reduced benefits. This is incorrect. The NRL and ARLC are paying players significantly above the contractual entitlements under the “rollover terms” applicable to the 2023 season – Salary Cap for 2023 is a record $12.1m, +25.4% compared to 2022, minimum wage has increased +50% to $120,000. Further, the NRL and RLPA have agreed and signed the first-ever NRLW CBA Term Sheet which provides certainty to the NRLW players for the next five years ahead of an exciting, expanded NRLW competition. It brings substantial benefits to female athletes, including an NRLW Salary Cap that will reach $1.58 million by 2027.

    The NRL’s offer provides increased agreement and consultation rights for the RLPA and players, including agreement rights on changes to the season structure that have a material impact on the workload of the Players which includes addition of more regular season matches.

    The suggestion that the NRL has not been listening to the players is not correct. The NRL and Clubs have spent well over 12 months negotiating and carefully considering the players requests. This includes recognising the players priorities to provide greater support to players transitioning from the game and support players in retirement and hardship. In listening to the players, the NRL offer meets the RLPA’s request on the Injury Hardship Fund, and establishment of new and expanded funds including the General Hardship Fund, Past Player Medical Support and Past Player Transition Program.

    The Australian Rugby League Commission is the governing body of rugby league in Australia and has an obligation to act in the best interests of the game both in the immediate and long-term, including protecting the interests of all of stakeholders in the game.

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 6 Jul 2023]

    RLPA FAQs of CBA Dispute with NRL

    7th Jul 2023

    On Wednesday, NRL and NRLW players took the brave step and committed to action in an attempt to drive a fair and reasonable outcome for their joint-collective bargaining agreement after the NRL walked away from negotiations. It was a player-led decision that has created much discussion and questions about how we got here, what the issues are, and how the dispute can be resolved. To give the public and industry more certainty, we have provided answers to some FAQs below. We believe the answers to these questions should also be – why are the NRL doing this to players?

    Governing a game isn’t about control. Stakeholders (including players, clubs and states) are allowed to hold the governing body to account to ensure they’re being transparent and leading the game effectively. The role of the governing body is to support stakeholders to make sure we can all be partners in growing and promoting the game. The players’ right to hold the governing body to account shouldn’t be reduced and their power shouldn’t be increased by trying to buy off rights that aren’t for sale.

    The key to resolving this is the RLPA and NRL re-commencing negotiations with an agreed independent industrial relations mediator (which we have not had to date). Remember, all these terms below the NRL presented were not negotiable and left players with little choice.

    Is this all about money?
    No. We have not asked for a single dollar more from the NRL since December 2022.

    Why did the players take action?
    After 20 months of negotiating, the NRL responded to the players’ settlement proposal with 100 drastic changes and said it was a take-it-or-leave-it offer, effectively halting negotiations. The players were left with little choice but to take action and get the NRL back to the negotiating table.

    What is the intent of the action?
    The RLPA and NRL must agree to re-commence negotiations with an industrial relations mediator to reach an outcome on their 100-plus changes to our settlement proposal. We have nothing to hide, and neither should the NRL. Let’s allow an expert to reach an outcome on all resolved matters. The players’ current action will only end once there is a draft CBA ready to be taken to NRL and NRLW players for ratification. NRL player benefits must also return to pre-COVID levels for 2023.

    Are the RLPA against expansion?

    What is the issue with the season schedule then?
    The NRL want to have full control rather than equal agreement rights with players and clubs to add two more rounds to the NRL schedule. That would be at least another 16 matches that they don’t have to agree with the RLPA. This would place a health and safety risk on players and is a clear player workload issue. At a time when the game has never been more intense, the NRL and ARL Commission should not be looking to increase the match obligations of players without agreement with players. Agreement (which is different to consultation) with players is not stopping the game from moving forward. It’s respecting the players as partners who put their bodies on the line for the product, and working together.

    What is the issue with the player data?
    The NRL’s position on the collection and storage of player data (both medical and otherwise) doesn’t comply with privacy laws. They are attempting to assert ownership over player data and use or sell it without the informed consent of the player. By failing to responsibly protect personal data and interests, this becomes just another demonstration of significant overreach and is an attempted abuse of power.

    What is the issue with financial reporting?
    The RLPA had to fight during COVID and last year’s revenue share negotiations to increase what was owed to players by $28m. It is important to have the proper rights and access to accurate financial information from the NRL, particularly when we are in a revenue share agreement with the governing body. However, the NRL has tried to minimise its financial reporting requirements and the ability for the RLPA to challenge and audit NRL accounts in order to verify numbers and ensure compliance with the CBA and our revenue share arrangements. If the game loses more than $10m in a single year, despite exceeding forecasts every other year, the NRL want players to share in that loss. That means the NRL could meet and beat their revenue forecasts over the 2023-27 term, but the players would still have to take cuts to their pay and/or benefits. Without the proper financial reporting, how can players be sure they are sharing in the losses fairly? The NRL has also proposed to have absolute discretion to terminate the CBA if they lose a total of $40m during the term, even if that was foreseen or it was due to their own poor financial estimates or deal-making. The NRL terminating the CBA at their discretion would leave the players incredibly vulnerable, removing rights that have been secured and certainty around your payments and the funds set up to support players in transition and retirement. This does not represent fair nor equal rights on a decision of such significance.

    What is the issue with international payments?
    The NRL have included international payments for NRL-run international series to be paid for by the players. That is a cost that has not previously been included in the CBA, primarily because it relates to employment for a players’ nation, not in the NRL. Now the NRL want those costs absorbed by the NRL players, for the same share of revenue (plus absorbing training wage, private health insurance and education costs that weren’t previously included). All NRL Players would be paying for international payments, effectively by reducing other benefits owed to them. The NRL wants to then take any revenue generated from those games without sharing it with the players. This might be acceptable if the NRL included money from these matches in their financial forecasts, and in the players’ share of revenue. But they haven’t, and they’re not being transparent. The NRL have not shown players or the proposed competing nations clear financial detail relating to sponsorship, government funding or grants, forecasts for ticket sales or broadcast revenues. They want to use money generated by the NRL and NRLW competitions to pay for all international matches they run and own. The RLPA position (which we proposed to the NRL) is that there should be equal payments for all players from all Nations playing in these tournaments (including Kangaroos and Jillaroos). However, those payments should be determined and paid for by the money (sponsorships, broadcast, tickets, government funding) generated from those international games.

    What is the issue with NRL minimum salaries?
    For 2023, the NRL want to reduce the Top 30 minimum salary from $130,000 to $120,000, the Supplementary List minimum salary from $85,000 to $70,000, and weekly training wages from $1,200 to $1,000.

    What is the issue with integrity?
    The NRL have tried to place significant limitations on the RLPA’s access to integrity-related notices, limiting our ability to fully support players and ensure the process is a fair one.

    What is the issue with insurance?
    The NRL has tried to include Representative Injury Insurance being paid for from the players’ money, despite that insurance being of zero benefit to players. This insurance is not a benefit for players, it is a club benefit, so the players shouldn’t have to pay for it. Players have contract security already, so this would be paying insurance for the salaries players are already entitled to.

    What is the issue with consultation?
    The NRL have tried to reduce their obligations on what they have to discuss when consulting with the RLPA and reduced our ability to challenge their decisions that impact players and keep them accountable. This is a blatant attempt to keep us information-poor and cut out the players’ voices on important matters that impact them.

    What is the issue with player property?
    The NRL wants to reduce player property protection and give themselves the right to exploit individual player property.

    What is the issue with controlling where money is spent?
    The NRL want to control where the players spend their share of revenue. What right does the NRL have to determine where a member-based Association spend its own members’ money? This includes the Injury Hardship Fund, Past Player Program, Retirement Account, Wellbeing & Education, General Hardship Fund and more. All funds established by players. The NRL is trying to restrict how much funding the RLPA can have, despite that the money that we run our business on comes from the players’ share. The players fund the RLPA, not the NRL. When it comes to revenue generated by stakeholders, the NRL is effectively a bank that distributes each stakeholder’s share. The NRL also want to control the RLPA’s operating costs and for us to run on less funding than we secured in the 2018-2022 CBA. Less funding despite servicing over 60% more players through the 17th NRL team and up to 12 NRLW teams over the term. The NRL want the RLPA to do more work for less money in an attempt to de-power us. This is classic union-busting and is a complete overreach into an independent Association. We must be able to continually meet player needs and appropriately fund the RLPA (which is determined by the players and our Board). Not only do they want us to operate on less than we secured under the last CBA, the NRL expects that the RLPA should take on more responsibilities (Past Player and Transition Program etc) but restrict our ability (as determined by the players) to increase the appropriate funding to run those initiatives. Any increase in the funding of the Association comes from the players and their share, we do not go to the NRL for more money. But they still want to restrict us. To top it off, the NRL is trying to dictate how many commercial partners (including servicing arrangements) the RLPA can have, reducing our ability to generate additional money that could help support players. We have to ask their permission to enter into a commercial arrangement.

    What is the issue with the rollover of the next CBA?
    During any rollover period of this next CBA, the NRL wants to keep players at 2027 payment levels, and retain any additional money they receive (which they will likely get in a new broadcast cycle). Combined with a prohibition on taking action, it incentivises the NRL to delay and stall bargaining (like they are doing now).

    What is the issue with above-forecast revenue share?
    The NRL has kept our peace offering of allowing them to retain ALL above-forecast revenue until they reach $300m (or until the end of the 4th year of the agreement – 2026 or if they re-negotiated the broadcast deal during the CBA term) to buy assets for the game and protect its future. The players offered that as an innovative and responsible measure to help progress negotiations and grow the game (e.g. investment in state leagues and grassroots). They can spend this money on developing an asset base in whatever manner they believe will benefit the game, just like how players should control where their funds are spent for their benefit. It is a significant give by the players given the long history of administrations failing to develop reserves and assets notwithstanding record revenues in every CBA cycle. The game will exceed its forecast, as it has always done every year outside of COVID in 2020. That financial success is because the product is excellent. Players make the product and fans make the game professional by buying memberships, tickets, memberships, subscriptions etc.) Without players, there is no game, and without fans, there is no profession. Unfortunately, the $300m peace offering still isn’t good enough for the NRL and ARL Commission: If they sell rights to broadcasters other than Nine or Fox, or sell content other than the NRL competition (e.g. an international series or NRLW competition ), players won’t share in that money. The NRL will keep it, despite the broadcaster paying to televise players playing the game. If the competition expands, the NRL want it to be up to the players to fund costs that should otherwise be for the NRL to pick up, such as travel and accommodation, administration, and match officials’ costs – so the NRL expect players to pay all of those costs from their share of revenue.

    Why do we want an expert industrial relations mediator?
    We feel the negotiations have got to a stage where only an expert in industrial relations can help the parties break the impasse on the outstanding issues. These people are skilled at banging heads together to get an outcome, but within the context of what is lawful and best industrial practice. Since late 2022, negotiations have benefited from having a facilitator that was known to the parties. Because he was mutually respected by each party, the facilitator was brought in to try and mend the relationship and, in doing so, try and bring the parties closer together on the CBA issues. He has absolutely achieved that. The parties have moved closer to a deal. But he has had a monumental task on his hands. In hindsight, he should have been brought in earlier, before the relationship had deteriorated to the extent it has. The reality is that the facilitation now required is just to get the deal done. That requires an expert industrial relations mediator. The relationship will have to be mended elsewhere. Some of the remaining issues are complex and encompass legal and industrial principles. Therefore, we need an expert in the industrial relations space to attempt to get this deal finalised. To clarify Hugh Marks’ role, Hugh was appointed by the NRL to lead their negotiations, at least initially. Whilst Hugh was very fair and reasonable and obviously had industry knowledge, he was the NRL’s appointee, not ours. If Hugh had have been given authority to get a deal done (which he wasn’t) then we may well have got there, such was his sensible approach. However, that was not the case. Nevertheless, we appreciate the role that Hugh played.

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 8 Jul 2023]

    RLPA escalate dispute to ACTU

    25th Jul 2023

    The Rugby League Players Association addressed the ACTU for the first time in their fight for a fair deal in collective bargaining with the NRL. The RLPA briefed the ACTU Executive on their dispute and representatives of every union in the country voted unanimously to support them.

    Rugby League Players Association CEO Clint Newton, said "We are honoured and proud to be presenting to the ACTU Executive. This is a first for the RLPA and, on behalf of all our members, we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the support the unions have provided us to date. At the moment, our Association is confronted with a governing body that fails to recognise the fundamental rights our members deserve in return for their essential labour. Players are currently undertaking unprecedented action in rugby league because of the failure of the NRL to negotiate with respect and fairness. The RLPA recognises how important the union movement has been for workers in this country, and still are today. The strong foundations they have firmly entrenched across countless industries have paved the way for sport unions and associations."

    ACTU Secretary Sally McManus,aid. "The players are the game. They deserve a fair agreement which provides them with certainty, security and a fair say over the direction of their work. The ACTU Executive call on the NRL to immediately cease their Union-busting tactics. The NRL need an independent umpire or should support the engagement of an industrial mediator or the Fair Work Commission, to assist in resolving the dispute. The union movement stands ready to assist with their full support and unite with the players and their union, the RLPA."

    Ref - ACTU [Viewed 26 Jul 2023]

    RLPA to cover NRL Logo

    27th Jul 2023

    Players are set to cover the NRL logo on their jerseys this weekend in protest at the stalled negotiations over a fresh collective bargaining agreement (CBA). NRL and NRLW players will take part in the action as the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) turns up the heat on head office over protracted talks that have dragged on for months. The NRLW remain without a CBA and NRL players are operating under the previous agreement which lapsed last November and must sign off on a new deal by October. The move comes after the RLPA introduced a boycott of player media duties on matchdays and follows a meeting with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in Melbourne earlier this week.

    Further actions are believed to be planned if the NRL doesn't come to the table and resurrect the flagging deal after they offered, what the RLPA labelled, 'take-it-or-leave-it' terms. The RLPA have called for an independent mediator to resolve the stalemate after the players' union said the NRL had made "100 unreasonable and unacceptable changes" in their last offer. Covering the NRL logo on team jerseys is the union's latest stunt, a move which was floated as a possible protest tactic during the pre-season tournament before players called off their action.

    Players covers the NRL logo during Round 22 of the competition, though they did not continue with this action in Round 23.

    Ref - AAP [Viewed 5 Aug 2023]

    RLPA appeal to Sponsors of the Game for support in CBA dispute

    4th Aug 2023

    Letters were sent to the likes of Telstra, Sportsbet, KFC, Chemist Warehouse and Harvey Norman, as well as the chairs of each club. The letters complained about the lack of progress in negotiations with the league. "We are not asking you to pick sides in this dispute but to encourage the NRL to engage in a process to resolve it. We’ve laid the path out; it is fair and reasonable and can enable an end to these negotiations. It is in the interest of everyone invested in the NRL and the sport of rugby league that this matter be resolved." said the letters, signed by Rugby League Players’ Association chairman Deidre Anderson and chief executive Clint Newton

    Ref - B&T [Viewed 6 Aug 2023]

    RLPA appeal to Fans for support in CBA dispute

    5th Aug 2023

    The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) is proud to announce the release of the players’ compelling and impactful “Stand With Us” video, aimed at promoting the players’ CBA claims amid the ongoing player action taking place. ‘Stand With Us’ features players from all 27 NRL and NRLW clubs, ranging from Board Directors and Delegates to rookies and 300 gamers encouraging the ARL Commission and NRL to get back to the negotiating table on fair terms. It’s a call to arms in the players’ dispute against a governing body that is trying to bulldoze their employment rights by using unfair and outrageous negotiating tactics against players. The players want the NRL to protect and respect them, and their CBA deals agreed. The clock is ticking on November 1, where we could be in the chaotic position of having no CBA for men or women. It’s an outcome that would have consequences for every stakeholder in the game.

    Key Issues For Players

  • Season schedule for NRL players
  • Player data and privacy laws
  • Financial reporting transparency
  • Autonomy player money
  • Unfair terms to force players to take cuts
  • Agreement rights over employment terms
  • Reduction in consultation with players
  • Exploitation of player property (image)
  • International tournament revenue and player payments
  • A prohibition of future player action
  • Integrity transparency and fair process
  • NRL ability to terminate the CBAs

    Without A CBA, NRLW Players Do Not Have

  • Protections around player property use
  • The consultation and dispute resolution processes
  • Access to information (financial and research)
  • Access to the Injury Hardship Fund
  • Access to a new Past Player Medical Support
  • Access to the General Hardship Fund
  • International and domestic representative payments
  • Access to a share of the above-forecast revenue
  • Access to the Wellbeing & Education Program
  • An Illicit Drug Policy
  • Agent Accreditation
  • A licensing program
  • Protections around player data collection and use

    The NRL is the outlier in our region when it comes to protecting and respecting female athletes playing a major code.

    Stand With Us

    All NRL and NRLW players are united in their quest for a fair and reasonable collective bargaining agreement. We are fighting for our autonomy, agreement over our health and safety, informed consent over our data, insurance protections, access to information, and preventing the game from terminating our CBA.

    In 2003 the RLPA with its Player Leaders fought for the first-ever collective bargaining agreement. The action those players took then helped accelerate the professional era of Rugby League, guaranteeing minimum wages for the first time, player insurance, and funding for wellbeing and education programs. Twenty years later we are in a similar fight, and we still don’t have a CBA for NRLW players. Some people think NRLW players do, but a term sheet does not offer us all the protections that a long-form CBA is currently providing female athletes in codes like the AFLW, Cricket, WNBL and even our incredible Matildas.

    The NRLW is the only major code in Australia without a CBA and we deserve better than that. In the men’s game, there is no long-form CBA, an agreement that is supposed to provide us with the protections of all terms and conditions. The current terms and conditions will expire in 3-months, leaving the entire industry vulnerable. Players are people first and we deserve to be treated with respect.

    The NRL and Clubs should want a completed CBA and the protection this provides for not only the players but the entire industry.

    They say we aren’t informed – WE ARE

    They say we aren’t united – WE ARE

    We appreciate all the support from our families and all our fans, who know and understand what we are doing. What we are standing for is not only for us but for all players past, present and future. We need a true partnership, not a dictatorship.

    A CBA is a five-year agreement, it’s about establishing fair rules for that partnership over a long period of time. These rules will ensure this generation and the next generation of men and women are treated with respect and are protected.

    Our families need to know we are safe and are fairly compensated during what is a very short career. We appreciate playing in the NRL, but we don’t play for the NRL. We play for our families. Our fans. Our Club. That’s who we represent when we cross the white line every week

    We invite you to stand with us and show not only the game but the entire industry that we are all united in our desire to create history with our first-ever women’s and men’s joint CBA.

    Stand with us. And let’s get this done.

    Ref - RLPA [Viewed 6 Aug 2023]

    NRL boss Peter V'landys addresses ongoing CBA drama

    7th Aug 2023

    ARLC boss Peter V'landys has addressed the ongoing RLPA dramas, with a host of 'minor issues' reportedly behind the stalled collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations. V'landys pushed for a meeting between both parties with a mediator present, and also suggested the players should be involved in any discussion. "We want to get in a room, but we want the existing mediator who has been there from the start – and that mediator was put forward by them," he said. "He’s now got all the information, he knows the game, he knows where people have given concessions – he is the best person to be the mediator. We have said to the RLPA that we’ll meet you anytime you want, but we want the existing mediator to be present. Clint has got a job to do and if they come to us and want Clint Newton in the room, that’s fine. What we want is a few player directors in the room – they’ve got to listen to the negotiation, because there’s a lot of misinformation. If we couldn’t do it in a day, I’d give it away. They’re not big issues… if both parties came in here in good faith, you could settle those issues pretty quickly. The big issues have been settled – the funds, management of the funds, the total money to the players, the salary cap, the minimum payment, the holidays – they’re all settled"

    "I think the messaging is wrong and there’s lot of misinformation, and they should hear it first-hand," he said. "I think the players, a lot of them, don’t actually know the issues. If the players knew that they’ve got the best conditions and money in the history of the game, if they knew they’re getting a 37.4 per cent increase, if they knew they’ve gone from six weeks to nine weeks annual leave, if they know that we’ve got no intention whatsoever of increasing the number of games – I don’t think they’d be in a position where they are now. If they decide to have whatever action, that’s fine and I will respect that – but at the moment, there’s a lot of misinformation and that’s got to be corrected."

    Ref - SN [Viewed 8 Aug 2023]

    RLPA - NRL Talks resume

    8th Aug 2023

    The stalemate between the NRL and the RLPA was broken today after RLPA chair Dr Diedre Anderson contacted Peter V'Landy's by email to organise a meeting. Meeting was then arranged on Wednesday to discuss the remaining 10 items.

    Ref - SN [Viewed 8 Aug 2023]

    NRL & RLPA reach CBA agreement

    10th Aug 2023

    The National Rugby League [NRL] and Rugby League Players' Association [RLPA] have today reached an in-principle agreement on a collective bargaining agreement and released the following joint statement:

    The Rugby League Players' Association is pleased to advise that it has reached in-principle agreement with the NRL on an historic collective bargaining agreement. Once ratified, this agreement will set rugby league up for the future while ensuring the rights of all NRL and NRLW players - current and future - are protected. The in-principle agreement will be presented to the Australian Rugby League Commission and Rugby League Players’ Association for ratification in the coming days. Player-led action for this weekend will be cancelled. The RLPA acknowledges the efforts of the NRL to resolve the CBA in recent days, and thanks its members for their resolve in ensuring a fair agreement that benefits the game and all of its stakeholders.

    It is understood that NRL CEO Andrew Abdo, RLPA CEO Clint Newtown and Rabbitohs boss Blake Solly along with RLPA Chair Diedre Anderson and ARLC chairman Peter V'Landy's took also took part in the two day meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 11 Aug 2023]

    First Ever Long-Form CBA signed by NRL and RLPA for 2023-27

    4th Apr 2024

    In a historic day for elite rugby league, the National Rugby League and Rugby League Players’ Association have signed the game’s first-ever long form Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The signing of the long-form CBA signals a new era of partnership between the governing body and players following negotiations during the 2023 season.

    The joint long form CBA, which was based on the NRLW term sheet agreed on in February 2023 and the NRL term sheet agreed in August 2023, is a significant document that provides the rugby league industry with a framework of employment for NRL, NRLW and representative players for the 2023-27 term.

    The historic agreement now underscores a shared commitment to collaboration and mutual respect between players and the governing body, paving the way for continued innovation and professionalism on and off the field. The long-form CBA lays the foundation for a robust future, strategic alignment, and focus on growth and investment for the sport.

    Key terms in the joint long form CBA for NRL and NRLW players include:

  • A revenue share agreement between players and the NRL, with players to share in above-forecast distributable revenue after the NRL reaches an agreed level of revenue generating assets or in the fifth year (whichever comes first)
  • Increased contract protection for players, including those on training contracts
  • The establishment of new player funds that recognise the contribution of and provide support for elite rugby league players, particularly in their post-careers
  • Clarification of player property rights
  • Improved rights for players on changes to their terms and conditions

    Clint Newton, CEO of the RLPA, hailed the landmark moment for the elite game and its players. "Negotiating and drafting the first long-form agreement is always the hardest, but the signing of this crucial document will make the next one easier and gives incredible clarity to clubs, players and the NRL over the current term. There is no hiding from the fact that the players stood firm and fought hard for a long-form CBA that strengthened their rights and the terms and conditions of their playing contracts. Previous CBA negotiations have never materialised beyond a term sheet, which does not provide the industry with the comprehensive detail of a long-form agreement. Players have agreed to co-invest in the game’s future through this historic and unique revenue share agreement. As with any healthy partnership, those who contribute the most to revenue growth should be rewarded for that and this agreement capitalises on this shared philosophy. This is a fantastic result for the game given the already established asset base and the potential for grassroots investment. The continued outstanding performances of the NRL and NRLW players helping generate rapid revenue growth should see players share in the game’s success earlier than expected and beyond. The RLPA would like to recognise the time and work put in by the respective teams at the NRL and RLPA to draft the joint long form CBA. Importantly, though, we would like to thank the players for their strength and the incredible role they played in getting us to this historic and watershed moment," Mr. Newton said.

    NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the new CBA marked an important maturity in the relationship between the players and the NRL. "This landmark new agreement means that players are now genuine partners in the future of the game," Mr. Abdo said. "Rugby league players are some of the greatest athletes in the world and our partnership means they will now receive a record $1.347 billion in payments. Importantly we have clarity and commitment from the RLPA for the Commission’s prioritisation of growth of the international game and the continued growth of the women’s game. These were important components of the negotiation. We are working together with the RLPA to support players during and after their playing career with the establishment of new programs for a better overall athlete experience. The Commission is focused on growth and reinvestment back into the game at all levels. This agreement means we can work together to maximise the revenue generating opportunities. Investing in participation and pathways has never been more important for the game. The model we have negotiated means the game can reinvest for the future and ensure we are healthy for decades to come. The NRL acknowledges the contribution and compromise of all parties to reach this historic agreement including the chairs and boards of both the ARLC and RLPA, the clubs, players, facilitators and management of both entities. Rugby league is a game built on passion, and while these negotiations were no different, we move forward with genuine respect and confidence that the game has never been in a better position and we have alignment and a partnership with players."

    Ref - NRL [Viewed 5 Apr 2024]

    © 2024 SSR Almanac / HOME / RETURN