The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is to slash Test match payments to players from next season and impose salary caps on the five domestic Super Rugby clubs to curb escalating costs.
The ARU and the professional players union announced a new collective bargaining agreement yesterday, including a cut in Test payments to each of the Wallabies from US$13,100 to US$10,000 per match next year and in 2015, and the imposition of a US$5 million per season salary cap for Super Rugby clubs.
Australian international players generally have Super Rugby contracts plus top-ups from the ARU, along with Test match payments. Player payments have come under scrutiny this year after Australia won just three of their 10 Tests against the British and Irish Lions and in the Rugby Championship against World Cup champions New Zealand, No. 2-ranked South Africa and Argentina.
World Cup-winning Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones was among those calling for incentive-based match payments, a move rejected by the ARU and the players’ union.
The new agreement, the first in a decade, is projected to save the ARU more than 10 percent of its player payment costs.
Assembly allowances for training camps and Test matches will also be cut.
The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) negotiated an increase in the minimum individual player salaries for Super Rugby squad players.
Wallabies on the RUPA board include Australia captain James Horwill and veteran hooker Stephen Moore.
Horwill said rugby in Australia was dealing with challenging financial and performance issues.
Rugby union became professional in 2005. Australia won the World Cup in 1991 and in 1999, but have not reached the final since 2003. In the meantime, their southern hemisphere rivals South Africa and New Zealand have won the past two titles.