View Full Version : New Rugby Deal Has Golden Glow

DJ Jnr
01-11-05, 02:11
Duncan Johnstone
Revenue sharing, guaranteed retainers and a provincial salary cap feature in the collective agreement signed off between the New Zealand Rugby Union and their leading players.

The New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) and NZRU have finally agreed on a deal for three years from 2006 to 2008, ending 12 months of negotiations.

The NZRU studied other major international sporting organisations and believed, as rugby enters its second decade of professionalism, that they have engineered "a world class model".

As predicted, a $100,000 bonus is on offer to All Blacks if they can win the 2007 World Cup in France, a minimum wage of $65,000 has been established for Rebel Sport Super 14 players and the salary cap for next year's revamped Air New Zealand NPC has been pushed out to $2m.

Here are the key points of the three main areas.

Revenue Sharing

Professional players will have a new revenue-sharing arrangement with the NZRU which will see 32.4% of all player-generated revenue go into an annual player payment pool to be used for player payments and initiatives. Player-generated revenue includes all NZRU broadcasting revenue, sponsorship and match-day revenue.

The revenue-sharing model is similar in concept to that used by many other professional sports organisations in New Zealand and internationally, including New Zealand Cricket, the Australian and English rugby unions and the professional basketball, hockey and baseball leagues in the United States.

Guaranteed Retainers

A player's base remuneration (or retainer) will now be guaranteed to be paid for the term of his NZRU contract. The minimum base remuneration level for Rebel Sport Super 14 players, established under the previous Collective Agreement, will remain at $65,000.

For example, if a player on a $65,000 base contract for two years until 31 December 2007 is selected for a Rebel Sport Super 14 Squad in 2006 but not selected in 2007, he is entitled to continue to receive his base remuneration of $65,000 (his retainer) in 2007.

In addition to the new guaranteed retainer structure, a system of weekly assembly rates for All Blacks and members of other NZRU national teams has been agreed, with all team members receiving the same payment. Under the previous agreement, All Blacks rates were negotiated individually.

The weekly assembly rates for NZRU teams are:
* All Blacks - $7,500
* Junior All Blacks - $3,500
* New Zealand Maori - $2,000
* All Blacks Trial team - $2,000

A minimum retainer of $15,000 has been introduced for players on NPC Premier Division contracts.

Players selected for the 2007 World Cup All Blacks will be eligible for a $100,000 bonus. Each player will receive $35,000 if New Zealand win their semifinal and $65,000 if New Zealand win the final.

Provincial Union Salary Cap

The new agreement will set a $2m salary on total annual player payments made by each of the 14 NPC Premier Division unions.

The level of the cap will be adjusted by the CPI (Consumer Price Index) in future years.

Within the cap limit of $2 million (for 2006), there are certain discounts and additional values that will be built into a team's total salary cap value under the proposed salary cap.

Discounts will apply to current or former All Blacks. They will also apply for provincial players who have played for the same provincial union for eight years or more.

Unions are able to make bonus payment can be made for players involved in the NPC play-offs.

The NZRU will audit provincial unions to ensure they don't breach the salary cap and will impose financial penalties on any that do.

There is an increase in players' annual leave from four weeks to eight weeks and the establishment of a Benevolent and Welfare Fund for players, which replaces the medical retirement benefit provided under the previous agreement.

The new agreement also introduces half a day a week which players must use for professional development, such as tertiary study or work experience.

While the salary cap had been agreed between the NZRU and the NZRPA, it remained subject to the approval of the Commerce Commission. An application for approval will be lodged by the NZRU shortly.

Other key features of the collective agreement include:

* Contracted players must have at least one day off per week.

* Players being "rested" from selection are still entitled to payments they would have received had they been selected.

* Retainers for New Zealand Sevens players ranging from $25,000 to $45,000 depending on talent and experience.