Is the latest deal with the RLPA fair?

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru

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    The National Rugby League (NRL) and the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) have reached an agreement. The players will get 29.5% of expected revenue. Anything on top of this they share equally with the clubs, the grassroots and the NRL.

    This 29.5% for players is apparently a 52% pay increase. How good would that be? Going to work and getting paid an extra 52%. The RLPA and NRL now agree that the players are equal partners in the game.

    I wrote an article on a true partnership between the players and the NRL where I noted that the devil is in the detail.

    The NRL notes that 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.

    Moreover, 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.

    That is great news. However, I still want to know what happens to the players below the elite level. How are all players who play the game going to benefit?

    This isn’t unreasonable considering it is the players union doing a deal with the NRL – the governing body of the sport.

    Furthermore, there didn’t seem to be much detail about how the players would help grow the sport. Are they going to attend regular weekly school outings and rugby league carnivals?

    I notice when I go to junior league games and carnivals I see no senior players.

    What about the access to the media? Are we going to adopt the American system which has proven to promote the sport and increase sponsorship and crowds?

    Players will need to engage more.

    No more running out the other door after games, no more single word responses. I want to hear what they have to say; I want a real discussion.

    What repercussions occur if a player brings the game into disrepute? Yes, there are always mental health issues, but clubs are learning to provide the support required for this.

    What will the RLPA and the NRL do to make sure players understand that negative headlines cost money?

    Another thing that left me wondering if more could be achieved was the increase of payment to the women’s game. The NRL confirmed that “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”.

    Junior women's rugby league

    Image: Sean Teuma

    I hope this involves the creations of a women’s league.

    Every NRL, NSWRL and QRL team should have an open women’s team. At least the money is a step in the right direction.

    Finally, my concern is the growth of the game. How will the grassroots money be spent? There seems to be no detail on this. Different groups in rugby league are trying different things instead of singing from the same sheet.

    A plan is needed, and it is required now. Not just any plan, an aggressive plan that will recapture the territory lost to AFL. The NRL needs a plan that will recover the passion for rugby league from the next generation.

    Honestly, it may sound harsh, but I don’t want our next generation growing up loving AFL and thinking rugby league is just some small park football that gets played in little pockets across New South Wales and Queensland.

    So, while it is great that players are considered equal partners, I am worried that too much has been given to the top end of the game. That 29.5% does not include representative payments, and even then, State of Origin players earn more than playing for Australia.

    Also, other nations with significant NRL representation don’t get a mention in regards to monetary payments. Go figure.

    Overall, I’d be happy if players received 50% of revenue as long as that meant, junior league players didn’t pay fees, players (men and women) at all levels in country rugby league and state leagues were represented in deals and benefited with payment as well.

    Maybe the NRL and the RLPA are working towards this. However, we don’t know, as there is a lack of detail or planning coming out from NRL headquarters.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • November 14th 2017 @ 6:53am
      Mike from tari said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      Mark, I have been on the RLPA website trying to find out what monetary benefits players in the Qld Intrustsuper Cup get out of this agreement, as you are aware there is a great disparity between wealthy clubs & not so wealthy clubs in player payments, coaching staff, training facilities & sponsors, I asked my son who plays Q Cup for East Tigers if he was a member of the RLPA, he said no, I told him that he was according to the Mission Statement, that was a surprise to him as no RLPA representatives been to his Club to brief the players.
      If all this money is for players at the elite level then I can only see the Rugby League vine withering away because like Union the juniors will slowly decrease & the talent pool will be zero.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 3:44pm
        no one in particular said | November 14th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

        If he has a Qld Cup contract he is a member. If he wasn’t he wouldn’t be able to take the field.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:59am
      Mark Campbell said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Thanks Mike, this also supports what my friends tell me (who play at a local level). They are often paying their own way and when a player gets injured and needs to work, the players and the club have to conduct fundraisers to support the injured player. I’m just saying that the money allocated to players is too top heavy. More needs to filter down. I most certainly agree players in the Q Cup and the NSW Cup should be much better supported.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 14th 2017 @ 10:48am
      At work said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Generally I haven’t been in support of giving the elite players a % of revenue, but one thing I think is great is the increase to the minimum wage. So many players only last a few seasons so they should at least be paid more than what they’d get in their day jobs.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 4:41pm
      Big Daddy said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

      If they increased the salary cap for 2nd tier that may help.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:24pm
      Joshua Butler said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

      And what about the Affiliated States? (everyone else other than Qld & NSW/ACT?) Are they going to be left out of the loop again? What’s in it for them?

    • November 16th 2017 @ 4:55pm
      Big Daddy said | November 16th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

      The Mel want it all. They fine you if you are over the cap and today we hear they will fine clubs if they don’t spend it all.
      I am scratching my head over this.

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