Thu, 13 Aug 2020

Australian Super Rugby players have agreed to a 30 percent pay cut until the end of September, officials said on Wednesday, just days before the start of a modified domestic competition.

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Salaries were cut by an average of 60 percent in April as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, but a new pay deal will give them 70 percent of their contracted pay, match payments and bonuses, Rugby Australia said in a statement.

"The professional players have acknowledged the important role they play in ensuring the future health of Rugby in Australia and I thank them for their cooperation throughout this negotiation," said Rugby Australia Chief Executive Rob Clarke.

The Australian domestic tournament is helping to fill the gap left when the 15-team southern hemisphere club competition was halted after seven rounds because of the pandemic in mid-March.

The Reds will kick off the domestic 10-round season against the Waratahs in Brisbane on Friday, before the Brumbies face the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra a day later.

Perth's Western Force, who were axed from Super Rugby at the end of 2017, will make their return to top-flight competition against the Waratahs in Sydney in round two.

The new deal brings the players in line with salary cuts for executives and recently appointed Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

With Rugby Australia facing big financial losses from the sport's coronavirus-enforced shutdown, around a dozen executives in late March agreed to 30 percent pay cuts until the end of September.

Last month the organisation also laid off over a third of its staff.

Rugby Australia posted a near Aus$10 million deficit last year, exacerbated by a hefty payment to former Wallaby Israel Folau after his sacking over homophobic social media posts.

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