Good progress in pay talks: Rugby Aust

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle says there's been good progress in players' union pay talks.
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle says there's been good progress in players' union pay talks.

Rugby Australia didn't reach an emergency interim pay deal with the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) on Sunday, but insisted progress was made.

A RA statement said talks had been positive and robust, as they sought to reach an agreement on salary cuts, forced by the coronavirus pandemic which had prevented games being played.

The governing body said both parties had agreed to move negotiations forward and ongoing discussions were scheduled for this week.

RUPA CEO and former Wallabies lock Justin Harrison said on Saturday it might take a week or longer to reach an agreement, given what had transpired in other codes on the same issue.

"Rugby Australia remains focused on securing a fair and reasonable deal with the players that will help protect the long-term future of our game," CEO Raelene Castle and RA chairman Paul McLean said on Sunday in a statement.

"We also welcome recent comments by World Rugby as it assists all national unions navigate through this very difficult time."

"The players understand that the burden must be shared by everyone in our game and we will look to reach an agreement which is fair and reasonable given the extraordinary circumstances we are in."

RUPA opted on Sunday not to make any public statement.

Last week, RUPA had complained it had not been given access to financial information before previous meetings with RA.

Earlier this week, some 75 per cent of RA's non-player workforce were stood down and the governing body announced a $9.4 million loss.

Castle herself announced she was taking a 50 per cent pay cut and members of the RA executive would sacrifice 30 per cent of their wage.

Two of Australia's greatest halfbacks, Nick Farr-Jones and Will Genia, offered their opinions on the problems bedevilling Australian rugby, with neither painting a pretty picture.

"I wouldn't be surprised if an administrator was appointed in the next fortnight," Farr-Jones told ABC radio's The Ticket on Sunday.

The halfback felt his former teammate Phil Kearns had the credentials to take over as CEO if Castle lost the job.

"Phil Kearns has got three-and-a-half decades of being intricately involved in the game," Farr-Jones said.

"He knows people, he's trusted by people and he's been in broadcasting for a long time and that's the most important thing RA has to lock away.

"He would be great with securing sponsors and with fans."

Genia, who retired from international rugby after the 2019 World Cup, said he was "incredibly sad" about the state of Australian rugby and called for unity.

"In a situation like this, it's easy to point the finger at Raelene and whoever and mismanagement of this and that. But the only way the game can get through this is if everyone works together and looks for solutions as opposed to just playing up problems," Genia told AAP.

"Just the image of the game - everyone is so willing to throw each other under the bus, as opposed to wanting to work together to find solutions."

Australian Associated Press