Rugby Australia (RA), the national governing body for rugby union, has agreed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will see earnings increased for its top women players and win bonuses restored for the men’s national team.

RA said it will invest $2 million for 35 female players to be contracted across three tiers, with the potential to earn between AUD30,000 and AUD52,000 for combined participation in the national Wallaroos squad and Super W, the top-tier club competition.

The RA will also give all players a minimum of AUD4,000 per year on top of their club salaries for playing in Super W, which features five rounds of matches plus finals.

The governing body said a parenting and pregnancy guideline, which will see players in the national Wallaroos squad paid in full while on maternity leave, had also been “agreed in principle.”

The four-year CBA, which includes the 2023 season and runs through 2026, will also see the men’s players make a “structured return” to pre-pandemic payments and benefits, including having their bonuses reinstated for wins at international events including The Rugby Championship, the Bledisloe Cup, British and Irish Lions tour, and the Rugby World Cup.

Players in the national Wallabies squad and Super Rugby teams agreed to deep pay cuts in 2020 while the game faced financial difficulties during the pandemic. They were on similar payment terms for the 2022 season as part of a one-year extension to the previous CBA.

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By GlobalData

RA and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) said the minimum salaries for Super Rugby and national rugby sevens players will be raised, without elaborating further.

The new CBA also includes increased investment in players’ career-ending insurance policies.

RUPA chief executive Justin Harrison said the new deal “provides a platform from which the game can enter a new period of opportunity and excellence.”

In a statement, RA chief executive Andy Marinos said: “The new CBA has been agreed with a commitment to greater investment in players, program, competitions, and structure over the next 10 years and beyond.

“We continue to make progress with the women’s XVs, providing certainty around payments to players at Wallaroos and Super W level for the season ahead.

“Whilst this investment is an improvement on what we have been able to do in the past, this is just the first step in our commitment to continued investment to professionalize the women’s game in a sustainable and hopefully very successful way.

“Importantly, we must thank all the players for the sacrifices that have been made during the Covid crisis – we are proud of the professional playing group in Australia, and we look forward to a successful future together in rugby.”

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