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Posted by RLPA

April 04, 2024

Historic first ever long-form CBA signed by NRL and RLPA

Joint RLPA and NRL media release: In a historic day for elite Rugby League, the National Rugby League and Rugby League Players’ Association have today 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.”

“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. The more we grow together, the more we can distribute funds to both the elite levels and vital grassroots parts of the Rugby League ecosystem. 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,” Mr. Abdo said.

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