As part of a new collective bargaining agreement, Australia has reached a milestone in gender equality as its men’s and women’s rugby teams are set to receive equal entry level salaries of A$44,500 (approximately $36,000 USD), according to the BBC.
This change comes after Raelene Castle was named the first female Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Australia, according to CNN. The agreement will last until 2020, and Rugby Union Players Association President, Dean Mumm, explained how it yields a brighter future for the sport.
“This agreement allows all parties to draw a line in the sand and move forward towards a more prosperous future for Australian Rugby,” Mumm said.
The RUPA recently posted a picture of its CBA outcomes for Women’s Rugby from 2018 to 2020, which includes starting a first-ever $1000 match payment (or $500 assembly allowance) for the Wallaroos, a pregnancy policy that will aid players who wish to re-enter the rugby world in planning families, and entry-level pay parity. The Super Rugby salary cap will also rise from A$5M to A$5.5M between 2019 and 2020, according to The Guardian.
The CBA also includes four weeks each of annual leave and active recovery, the “confirmation of player ownership of performance data and consent” before commercial use, and a gradual increase over three years to the “minimum Rugby Sevens player weekly salar[ies].” What’s more, it will provide “full coverage and security of CBA for insurance, medical, image rights, and other minimum benefits; a confirmation that minimum RA payments are exclusive of any dAIS or independent athlete support funding; a three-year agreement between players and game in alignment with broadcast arrangements;” a 29 percent revenue share of professional rugby revenues; and an expansion of the number of full-time contracts to 160.
According to a press release from Rugby Australia, this affects the Wallaroos, Wallabies, Super Rugby players, and Australian Rugby Sevens squads.
“The new CBA is the first of its kind to incorporate all professional programs, including our Sevens teams and the Wallaroos, and importantly addresses key issues of pay equality and player welfare,” Outgoing Rugby Australia CEO Bill Pulver said.
Super Rugby squads previously had 30-35 players maximum, but the new maximum number is 36-40, according to Rugbypass.
“It is always a huge honour to be able to represent your country, but when you have to take leave off work without pay for so long like at the Women’s Rugby World Cup it does definitely put a significant dent in your pocket,” she said.
RUPA states that the Wallaroos specifically will receive match payments and squad assembly fees as semi-professional athletes to help with some of these financial difficulties. Parry said female participation in the sport has risen since the Rio Olympic Games and, as a veteran player, she hopes to continue opening up opportunities for female players, as well as taking advantage of this CBA.
“On the back of Olympic success in Rio the sport has seen significant growth in female participation rates, and for us as role models we need to continue to do what we can to look after the longevity of the women’s game whilst taking advantage of the opportunities presented by this CBA.,” Parry told RUPA.
Rugby is one of the first sports to set these kind of strategic measures and achieve gender equality. This increased equality will likely draw even more women to the sport, thus making it one of the more popular sports for women around the world.
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