Survival mode as Rugby Aust meets players

Damien Fitzpatrick and other players' association representatives will meet Rugby Australia.
Damien Fitzpatrick and other players' association representatives will meet Rugby Australia.

Rugby Australia (RA) boss Raelene Castle says it won't be a case of "take it or leave it" on Tuesday when she meets the players' association to discuss what it will take to survive the next three months.

Castle on Monday declared she would take a 50 per cent pay cut and her executive would follow with a 30 per cent wage reduction, as the code announced a provisional $9.4 million loss for 2019.

Legal bills associated with the Israel Folau saga stung RA before the hammer blow of COVID-19 shut down Super Rugby - and potentially Wallabies Tests later this year - leading to losses in match-day and broadcast revenue.

Forecasting "significant cuts" across the board, RA will meet the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) on Tuesday after its chief executive Justin Harrison accused RA of a lack of consultation in the process.

"They have expressed their frustration. I share their frustrations. I wish that we could get there quicker and I wish we could have all this nailed down," Castle said.

"I've committed to RUPA that we wouldn't come to the table as a fait accompli and it be presented to them as a 'here it is - take it or leave it'."

Castle said RA was reluctant to enter any formal discussions with RUPA before a clearer picture was painted at Monday's annual general meeting.

"We'll be able to expedite the conversations as opposed to starting last week with half of the information and not really knowing," she said.

"This is difficult times; difficult times for all staff in our businesses and for players.

"I have an enormous amount of sympathy for that."

Castle admits she can't predict what professional rugby might look like next year, but is confident it will exist and that a "think tank" of the game's key stakeholders will be assembled to assess their options.

Despite RA's precarious overall position, Castle was confident they could stay afloat at least in the short term.

"Survival for the next three months is the most-important piece, then we can sit down as a sport," she said.

"All I can say is we have enough cash with plans we've put in place to ensure we can be cash-positive at the end of that three-month period, so that's a good start point."

Australian Associated Press