Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) and Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) have reached an in-principle collective bargaining agreement (CBA), ending a long-running stand-off between the two.
The agreement will see the league’s first billion-dollar CBA, which lasts until 2027 and covers men’s and women’s players, implemented within days pending documentation and ratification from the playing group.
The new CBA features an increase in player payments of 37%, with AU$1.35 billion ($890 million) to be designated to players between 2023 and 2027.
In a joint statement, the NRL and RLPA said: “Once ratified, this agreement will set rugby league up for the future while ensuring the rights of all NRL and NRLW players – current and future – are protected.
“The in-principle agreement will be presented to the Australian Rugby League Commission and Rugby League Players’ Association for ratification in the coming days. Player-led action for this weekend will be canceled.
“The RLPA acknowledges the efforts of the NRL to resolve the CBA in recent days, and thanks its members for their resolve in ensuring a fair agreement that benefits the game and all of its stakeholders.”
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The new CBA comes after the warring pair came together for a series of crisis talks over the last 48 hours after months of refusing to negotiate over several issues within the NRL’s proposal, the largest being around the level of autonomy the RLPA has over its own funds.
Other issues included player data and privacy laws, season scheduling, and transparency in financial reporting.
The stalemate led to a gameday media blackout, with players refusing the speak before, during, and after games, as well as further threats of a strike and boycott of the NRL’s annual Dally M Medal awards. It also saw players tape over the NRL logo on their jerseys in round 22 and release a video titled Stand With Us to gain support from fans.
The players were also hours away from stepping up their protest and delaying kick-off times during round 24.
The players will now resume their usual media commitments starting from today’s (August 10) clash between Manly and Penrith at Brookvale Oval.
The new CBA agreement comes after the NRL and RLPA agreed on a new pay deal and league structure for the women’s NRLW in February.
Under terms of the five-year agreement, the 2023 and 2024 NRLW seasons will include a nine-round regular season before two weeks of finals, with players given two weeks of annual leave as part of their contract, along with seven weeks of pre-season training.
The NRL has also pledged to invest AU$118 million into the women’s game over the next five years, while teams will be granted a salary cap of AU$900,000 for this season at an average of AU$37,500 per player.
The cap will then rise to more than AU$1.5 million in 2027 at an average salary of AU$62,500.
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