- 9 game regular season
- 2 week finals
- 7 week pre season
- Salary cap $900,000
- Minimum wage $30,000
- Access to wellbeing & education support
- access to injury hardship and other player support funds
- further expansion of the NRLW has been planned for
Valentine’s Day deal for women’s game raises hope of an end to NRL pay war
The NRL has put forward a compromise offer in its last major battleground area with the RLPA, which could result in the players’ union having total autonomy over its finances within five years.
The parties made a breakthrough on Tuesday, coming to an in-principle agreement on key terms for the NRLW collective bargaining agreement, easing fears of industrial action during the trial matches. Male players, in a show of solidarity for their female counterparts, had threatened a number of disruptions - including the delaying of pre-season kick-off times - if a women’s deal wasn’t forthcoming.
However, an agreement was reached on a number of key areas, including an allowance for private health insurance along with 12-month contracts and the opportunity for players to sign multi-year contracts from 2023.
As the parties now turn their attention to finalising an NRL agreement, the major sticking point is the RLPA’s demand that it control $113 million in funding for various player funds, programs and benefits.
Sources with knowledge of the negotiations, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of the discussions, told the Herald of the NRL’s plan to break the impasse. Head office has proposed that both parties jointly oversee that funding pool - via two representatives from each body - for the length of the new CBA. Should the association prove it is fiscally responsible for the funds over that period, the NRL would relinquish total control to the RLPA for the next agreement.
NRLW salary cap
- 2023: $900,000
- 2024: $1,020,000
- 2025: $1,254,000
- 2026: $1,386,000
- 2027: $1,518,000
NRLW minimum salary
- 2023: $30,000
- 2024: $34,000
- 2025: $41,800
- 2026: $46,200
- 2027: $50,600
“The Australian Rugby League Commission is adamant that investment in the women’s game be prioritised at every level and the finalisation of terms for the elite NRLW is just one aspect of that commitment,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“The proposed investment of $118 million across the five-year cycle at the elite level factors in future growth of the competition and is also supported by significant investment in pathways and grassroots participation as part of an overall strategy for women’s rugby league development.
“I want to acknowledge and thank the players, RLPA, clubs and all partners for their support as we worked through this historic agreement.”
The game will provide support for primary carers and parents of infants up to 24 months under the new arrangement.
RLPA CEO Clint Newton said the in-principle agreement on key financial terms recognised the dedication that players have made to the NRLW competition.
“We recognise the incredible contribution players make in playing the fastest and toughest sport in the world,” Newton said.
“Agreeing to these financial terms will now give NRLW players financial certainty and security ahead of signing contracts for the 2023 NRLW season and beyond. Although this is not a final agreement and several significant terms are yet to be agreed, this is a big step toward securing their first ever CBA.
“This is great progress for current and future players in agreeing to key financial terms and will lay the strong foundations which will allow our game to attract and retain the best talent in Australia and abroad. There is still much more work to do as we continue to negotiate a joint-CBA for NRLW and NRL players which captures all their terms and conditions.
“The RLPA Board and our team look forward to continuing our work with Andrew and clubs as we continue to negotiate a historic first-ever joint-CBA.”
Clubs will have a top 24 squad list with funding for investment in four development players for the women’s premiership. The NRLW salary cap rises from $350,000 in 2022 to $900,000 in 2023, and will reach $1,518,000 by 2027.
All players will also have access to wellbeing and education support and access to injury hardship and other player support funds.
The NRLW season will have a total period of 20 weeks in 2023 (nine-round regular season, semi-finals, grand final, seven weeks of pre-season and two weeks of leave), growing to 23 weeks by 2025.
Further expansion of the NRLW competition has been planned for in the strategy and investment.