SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 24: Maroons players line up for the national anthem during game two of the State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 24, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Rugby League Players Association have outlined their list of demands as negotiations over the next collective bargaining agreement continue.

The agreement, which is due to come into force next year and will run until the end of the current TV broadcasting agreement - at the end of 2027 - is yet to be signed.

The fact there has been no signing off yet has been criticised by some, including Manly's Andrew Davey who blamed a lack of knowledge over the salary cap for 2023 as the key reason he has been unable to land a new deal as yet.

"It's frustrating that it has taken this long," Davey told the media in mid-August.

"It's a lot of things. A lot of clubs don't know where they are at because the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) still hasn't been finished.

"That's frustrating for the clubs, trying to get their roster together, but also for players who haven't got a contract signed.

"Like it's mid-August. What are we doing?"

According to The Daily Telegraph however, the final demands from the RLPA have been confirmed.

Among them is an increase to the salary cap, moving to $10.4 million in 2023, and then with an increase of $400,000 per year for the remainder of the deal for the top 30 players. It would mean the cap goes to around $12.4 million by the end of the deal.

There would also be an allowance of $500,000 in the salary cap for long-serving and locally-developed players, essentially taking the 2023 cap to $10.9 million. The current allowance for this is only $200,000 per season.

The minimum wage for male players in the top 30 would also be increased to $150,000, while women would receive at least $30,000.

The demands also state that $650,000 would be set aside for a ten-player supplementary list outside of each club's top 30, while funds of $120 million and $50 million respectively will be set up for the women's game and medical support, hardship and transition to retirement for past players.

All up, the RLPA want players to hold 47.8 per cent of total NRL revenue across both the men's and women's game.

RLPA boss Clint Newton explained the increase of minimum wage to attempt to lose less talent to the game.

“We are seeing players leave the game at a greater rate than we ever have before — the average career span is four years,” Newton told the publication.

“We have seen that consistently decline. We are also seeing the average age of players decline. We are losing this experience out of our game and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep people in the game.

“What the players want to do is up the minimum wage and training wages, the introduction of match fees and a supplementary playing list to make sure we’re supporting players from the bottom up.

“The best players will be rewarded and remunerated but we’re trying to ensure the players at the bottom are looked after as well.”

The collective bargaining agreement is due to be signed in the coming months.

1 COMMENT

  1. “We are seeing players leave the game at a greater rate than we ever have before — the average career span is four years.”

    “We have seen that consistently decline. We are also seeing the average age of players decline. We are losing this experience out of our game and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep people in the game.”

    Clint Newton attributes the decrease in career span to the level of wages being paid to first grade players.
    The argument seems to be that if first grade players were paid more, then they would stay longer in the game.

    There are a few questionable assumptions in that proposition.

    The first assumption is that real wages for first team players are falling, or at least not increasing.

    The Salary Cap for 2012 was $4.4M, and for 2022 was $9.4M. ie a 213% increase over the eleven years. That is, an 8% per year compound increase, over a period when the average rate of inflation was less than 2% per year.
    Over that same period, the minimum wage for first team players increased from $55,000 to $120,000

    The second assumption is that players are quitting League to get better wages elsewhere.

    Most NRL players have no qualifications for any work outside Rugby League. There have been a few who have transferred to Rugby Union or AFL, but these – almost by definition – are marquee players, and it would be unwise to generalise from this handful to the other 99% of NRL players.

    Note that the Super League salary cap (for 25 players) is just $3.6M so NRL players are not going to the UK to get better wages. The reverse holds: the best UK players come to Australia because the NRL wages are so much better. (Apart from homesick expats), NRL players go to Super League only when they can’t get a contract over here.

    If the average age of first grade players is falling, that could well be due to:
    – Bringing through more youngsters from NSW Cup or Queensland Cup
    – Bringing in young UK players (eg Dom Young, Oliver Gildart and Bailey Hodgson)
    – Letting go those older players who are not as good as the youngsters available.

    One other possibility is that the average age of players in the NSW Cup or Queensland Cup is falling, and that leads to a younger players being moved up to the NRL. That could genuinely be due to low pay and poor prospects of making first grade, but from what is reported in the article the RLPA has made no demands for improving pay for these Cup players: RLPA seems to be concerned only with the top 30 squads.

    The third assumption (and for me, this is the key fallacy) is to assume that paying more for first grade players will keep them playing. Think about this. Unless the squad size is increased, there simply will not be additional squad slots available for the older guys.

    The fourth questionable assumption is that increasing the cap will flow through evenly to the 30 players in each squad. My expectation is that any extra money will go disproportionately to the marquee players. When quality spine players are in short supply, most – if not all – of the extra money will go to them. Cleary may get $1.5M and Munster $1.6M, but the guys on $125K aren’t going to see much improvement. That’s because there are a load of them available but very few top spine players. Supply and Demand – Economics #101

    Call me cynical, but from what I’ve read of Clint Newton’s views, they look just like old style trade union ambit claims.

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