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Posted by RLPA

September 09, 2015

Player wellbeing #1 priority

The Rugby League Players Association has called on the NRL to deliver on its commitment to player wellbeing.

“Our role is to defend player rights and protect player welfare and feedback from the playing group has revealed player wellbeing as a priority concern,” said RLPA General President, Clint Newton.  “We’re disappointed that, whilst publicly stating they have a shared commitment to player wellbeing, the NRL response is not meeting our expectations.

“We’ve been negotiating for months in good faith in the spirit of the agreement,” said Newton of the mid-term review of the current CBA. “But the NRL remains reluctant to acknowledge that Players deserve to have their fair share keep pace with increases in game revenue.”

This position is despite the NRL heralding in March this year that ‘Rugby League was in the strongest financial position in the game’s history’ and that the NRL was investing ‘more on players to assist them with education and welfare programs to help them be leaders on and off the field’.

The playing group, conscious of concerns about the financial position of some Clubs, has deliberately sought improvements and benefits that are not a financial burden for Clubs but that will have a meaningful positive impact on Player wellbeing.

“As the demands on players have increased so too have the needs of players,” said Newton. “We have to make sure we’re putting enough resources into meeting those needs and helping Players balance their football lives with family time, safeguarding physical and emotional health, education and post career planning.”

Newton says we all want Players at their best, so they play their best, and to support that aim the RLPA, in January this year, presented a leave and personal development proposal to Clubs and coaches.

“The NRL, Clubs and coaches all say Player welfare is the number one priority so we are at a loss as to why our proposal has not already been implemented,” said Newton. “The NRL has demonstrated how efficiently it can operate when introducing new events and rule changes and this is surely as important.”

An average playing career in rugby league is fewer than 50 games and the Players believe the Game has an obligation to support and equip young men, whose careers end through injury or otherwise, for life after football.

“For that reason we are seeking increases to the retirement fund contributions to help ease the transition for Players,” said Newton. 

“I also want to say how proud I am of the attitude of the elite Players who have come together to protect the interests of the wider playing group,” said Newton.

“This is not about the Game doing the minimum required it’s about doing the best we possibly can to protect the future of the Game and that’s not just for current players but also for those who’ll come after us.”

The RLPA sincerely hopes the NRL will provide a response the Playing group believes is reasonable and in keeping with our shared desire for Rugby League to provide the best working conditions and entitlements of all Australian sports, making it the first choice sport for talented athletes. 

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