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Posted by RLPA

September 22, 2021

Statement on the first joint RLPA Player Advisory Group forum

On Tuesday night the first joint meeting of the Men’s and Women’s Player Advisory Groups (PAG) convened to discuss issues of critical importance to player welfare and conditions.

The coming together of the two advisory bodies, whose members are drawn from the NRL and NRLW competitions, demonstrates the strength of their shared objectives and feelings on several key matters that are impacting the playing group, as well as clear alignment on a desire to increase transparency, accountability, and action from the governing body. 

Now more than ever it is vital that the players’ voice is not only heard but respected. These advisory bodies will continue to form part of the decision-making and advocacy efforts of the representative Rugby League Players’ Association.

Disappointingly this meeting comes against backdrop of repeated failures to agree on key matters with those most impacted. There is a united position among the player groups, that the NRL administration work with the RLPA on behalf of the players to ensure there is a genuine commitment regarding the players’ collective involvement in future decisions.

The PAG forum identified the following key issues impacting players and is calling on the NRL to act swiftly on:

  • The development and implementation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement for female players, as Rugby League remains the only major sport in Australia without a women’s CBA in place.
  • Contract security for the NRLW, which remains a pivotal element of the expanded 2022 season, achieved through the NRL working with the RLPA to develop a system that is fair and provides a structure that meets the needs of all the female players whilst benefiting the game. The players have persevered through structures that were developed and implemented without proper engagement from the start and were the ones who suffered as a result. 
  • Immediately addressing the process for implementing and communicating rule changes. The process for rule changes throughout the 2021 season is of significant concern for the playing group. These decisions were made without the RLPA directly involved, which deprived the process of the collective feedback from those with intimate on-field knowledge and those most impacted by the changes. It is vital that the RLPA is directly involved in any review of the 2021 season, allowing the views of those who actively participated to be heard. It is expected that the RLPA’s involvement in both rule review and implementation be a prerequisite moving forward.
  • Abandoning its current and disproportionate proposal to increase player fines, which is misguided and significantly inconsistent with other Australian and New Zealand sporting codes. The RLPA submitted a proposal to the NRL several months ago, outlining an improved alternative integrity framework and it’s vital the NRL engages with them to deliver the game a more fair, transparent, and consistent system.

The PAGs also called on the NRL and Commission to increase engagement with the playing body via the RLPA and to do so in good faith. 

Furthermore the PAGs reinforced that the RLPA is established by the players as their trusted and appointed representative body and represents all players in engagement with the NRL administration. It is the unanimous view of the PAGs that when the RLPA is party to the decision-making process, the game benefits.

Both Player Advisory Groups will continue to meet regularly to discuss initiatives that benefit the collective playing group and, together with the RLPA, will develop its views to improve the welfare and livelihoods of the players and advance the interests of the game we all love.


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