New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) have signed a new Collective Employment Agreement for professional rugby players in New Zealand from 2013 to 2015.
Formal signing of the agreement follows a comprehensive negotiation and ratification process by the NZR Board, Provincials Unions, Super Rugby Teams and the NZRPA.
The new Collective Agreement includes:
• an on-going commitment by all parties to work in partnership to ensure the growth and success of New Zealand rugby;
• revenue sharing model maintained with 36.56 per cent of player generated revenue, equating to $121.2m over three years, being set aside in the forecast player payment pool to allow for an increased investment in player payments and benefits;
• additional focus on sevens and women's rugby;
• reduction in the ITM Cup Provincial Union Salary Cap and the introduction of a centralised ITM Cup Incentive Payment for Investec Super Rugby players as part of an increased commitment to Provincial Unions.
The new agreement replaces the existing Collective Agreement and is effective from 1 January 2013. A full summary can be found here.
NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed the new agreement as critical for professional rugby in New Zealand and providing the game with significant certainty about the future.
“We have together achieved a result which is good for all areas of the game, affordable and importantly, improves our ability to keep our top players in this country.
"It's no accident the professional game is in great heart. We are currently in the unique position of holding all four World Cups in fifteens and sevens, the Chiefs have gone back to back in Investec Super Rugby and the Black Ferns have just enjoyed a clean sweep against England as they build to next year's World Cup.
"Our successes owe much to the strong partnership we have with players. However, we take nothing for granted and believe the new collective employment agreement provides a firm foundation to keep producing the best players in the world and the most successful teams and competitions.
Steve Tew said the new agreement underlined New Zealand Rugby's stronger financial position.
"New Zealand Rugby's financial future is more secure as we worked hard to contain costs, grow revenue and restore our cash reserves.
We have also secured a good portion of our income through our relationships with Principal Partner adidas, SKY Television, new Major Global Sponsor AIG and all our other commercial partners. Our revenue share model with players means they can expect to share in our improved position over the term of the Collective.
"Significantly the agreement also reduces the financial burden on ITM Cup unions through a combination of changes including a reduction in the salary cap, altered minimum and maximum player payment levels, and greater compensation for All Blacks who are unavailable due to their Investec Rugby Championship commitments.
"We have also agreed on an increased focus on the sevens game with increased provision for payments to All Blacks Sevens players and the introduction of a budget for New Zealand Women's Sevens players and increased assembly payments for Black Ferns players which underlines the importance of both the sevens and women's game to New Zealand Rugby's Towards 2016 strategy."
NZRPA Chief Executive Rob Nichol also welcomed the formal agreement noting that it serves as a cornerstone of the professional rugby environment in New Zealand.
"The agreement provides a level of certainty around the competitions and the overall contracting model. It sets the parameters that all those involved in professional rugby in New Zealand operate within from a player contracting, development and welfare perspective. It creates a strong professional rugby partnership and aligns the interests of the parties involved, helping to ensure we are all on the same page with what we are seeking to achieve, and what role we all play.
"As with previous collectives the players are proud of the results the process and final agreement has produced for rugby in New Zealand but we know we still have on-going challenges and opportunities to address to ensure rugby's long term growth and success."
"We operate in a global sporting and entertainment market place that continues to evolve. The Players believe we can never take anything for granted and that we must continue to work hard, create the best environment possible and strive for success.
"We wish to acknowledge and thank New Zealand Rugby, the Super Rugby teams and Provinces. Balancing a global professional sport and the needs for the local community game, in a society with a seemingly never ending stream of choice for the entertainment dollar and sporting and cultural participation, is far from easy."
"We will now look forward to some exciting competitions, performances and success stories on the field and continuing to work with New Zealand Rugby to ensure the game's health off it," Mr Nichol said.