Measures taken by Rugby Australia (RA) boss Raelene Castle and her executive to cut costs have allayed some of players’ representative Justin Harrison’s worst fears ahead of their crucial Tuesday meeting.
Castle will take a 50 per cent pay cut while her executive will endure a 30 per cent reduction after the announcement at Monday’s annual general meeting of a provisional $9.4 million loss in 2019.
The costly Israel Folau legal battle and settlement, plus the loss of Super Rugby fixtures and potential Wallabies Tests later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic have left the code teetering financially.
Castle will meet Rugby Union Players’ Association chief executive Harrison on Tuesday afternoon to determine how players’ salaries will fare in the fallout.
Harrison was critical of RA on Sunday, claiming there had been a “vacuum of information” and asking if their futures would be determined without any consultation.
Castle insisted it wouldn’t be a case of “take it or leave it” and Monday’s cost cutting encouraged Harrison, who said he was looking forward “to the first opportunity for pragmatic and transparent discussions on the restructuring and survival of the game”.
“As a playing group, the members take an indication that pay cuts of between 30 and 50 per cent are considered adequate to help nurse the game through this crisis,” he said.
“Our fear was deeper cuts might be needed and that the game was in a financial black hole.”
Castle was confident their measures would see the code through the next three months, but a think tank would be assembled to discuss what the professional landscape might look like beyond that.
“In 2021, I think there’s a high probability the calendar won’t look exactly like it looks at the moment,” she said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around the cost of flights, how far players will want to travel.
“We all hope Super Rugby will get back to where it was previously and we are scenario planning for that.
“But I also think, in the wider game, we need to be having conversations about what a new calendar could look like from an international point of view, a SANZAAR perspective and also a domestic perspective.”