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Posted by RLPA

December 23, 2022

Statement from RLPA Chair Dr Deidre Anderson AM

Statement from RLPA Chair Dr Deidre Anderson AM: RLPA Response to New Salary Cap Announcement

The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) Board was surprised at today’s announcement of the new salary caps for the 2023 NRL and NRLW competitions. 

It was the Board’s belief that both parties were acting in good faith and that negotiations were progressing positively and on track to reach an agreement. Today’s announcement has the potential to undermine the ongoing CBA negotiations and therefore the rights of players. 

This morning at 8:00 am (AEDT) 23rd December, the RLPA Board met to review the NRL’s latest financial proposal presented to players as part of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations. The RLPA received a 185-word financial proposal on Wednesday afternoon, 21st December and was directed to respond by COB on Thursday 22nd December. After requesting an extension the Board responded at 9.00 am (AEDT) 23rd December.

It is important to note that although the RLPA Board did not reject the NRL’s financial proposal as presented, they were left with no option but to not accept it in the absence of further detail on the full terms and conditions of the agreement. The Board felt a deep sense of responsibility to understand the NRL’s proposal in its totality before accepting in full the financial proposal. This was confirmed in writing to the ARLC and NRL this morning (9:00 am (AEDT) 23rd December).

The RLPA Board is charged to represent and negotiate all terms and conditions on behalf of the players. It would have been irresponsible of them to accept a financial proposal that lacked the detail required to act in the best interests of our membership (the players).

The Board requested all the necessary details to assist with moving towards an agreement. In a matter of a few hours, however, the ARLC and NRL instead publicly announced new salary caps for the 2023 NRL and NRLW competitions, as well as numerous key financial details associated with player payments. These included minimum salaries, veteran player allowances, development list size and payments, and costs that were previously paid for by clubs now being paid by players – all without agreement on any of the terms and conditions for the 2023-2027 term of the CBA. 

To announce new salary caps for players without their agreement and bypassing their association is unprecedented and, to the best of our knowledge, clubs were also not provided with the details of the new salary caps and player payment structure until approximately five minutes before the ARLC’s public announcement. 

For a governing body to set its own salary cap disrespects the entire player representation movement and the importance of collective bargaining. Today’s announcement goes against negotiating in good faith and only damages the trust between the players and the governing body.

While we are fully supportive of increases to the players’ salaries and other key player support programs – increases and support programs which we were attempting to negotiate – a CBA negotiation is more than just agreeing to a new salary cap. 

Giving the entire industry certainty is more than just agreeing to an abridged financial proposal. Giving the industry certainty is negotiating and clearly understanding the full terms and conditions of the players’ employment. Any payments players receive would not be provided until January, therefore the earlier announcement on core player payment terms is unnecessary and does nothing more than create further confusion for the players and clubs.

The players have been ready and willing to negotiate the full terms and conditions of their CBA for 12 months. It is not appropriate for the players to be rushed into agreeing to a financial proposal two days before Christmas. Agreeing to this week’s financial proposal, even in principle, would have created even more uncertainty for the industry and players because we would be working backwards and re-engineering terms and conditions to a figure that has already been set.

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