The drawn-out pay disagreement in the National Rugby League (NRL) seems to finally be reaching its resolution, with an in-principle agreement coming to light on Thursday evening. This provisional pact will now necessitate formal documentation and a thumbs-up from the players to be approved.
Just days earlier, the chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC), Peter V’landys, confidently declared he could hammer out an agreement in a mere “two hours” if both sides could recommence negotiations without malice. Astonishingly close to his valuation, the agreement was reached in two days.
Following months of disconnection, the NRL found common ground with the players’ union in meetings on Wednesday and again on Thursday afternoon. This later meeting proved fruitful, solving the remaining issues and providing the Rugby League Players’ Association an opportunity to present the proposed agreement to its members for endorsement. After 21 laborious months, the collective bargaining agreement is finally within reach.
Just one month ago, the Rugby League Players’ Association voiced their grievance that the NRL‘s top brass had executed “100 drastic changes” to what they referred to as a conclusive proposal. Major concerns including the degree of self-determination over internal funds have supposedly been rectified.
Threats of boycotting the Dally M and a potential player strike now seem to be averted.
“I’m on both sides of the coin; I’ve been a player and I understand as a player you have to get everything right.
“To be honest with you, the players association acts in the players’ best interests, long term, what is best for them. Financially and whatever [the issue] is, collectively, I’m glad the players are sticking together, that they are standing up for themselves.
“The point it’s gotten to, though, I think it’s probably gone too far. I thought they could have probably been in the room a bit sooner and not had to black out the [NRL] logo and all of that sort of stuff.
“At the same time, it’s a bit of a soap opera, our game, it creates a lot of drama. I thought it could have been done in a better way and done behind closed doors.”
Looking to the immediate future, as the finals approach, players are likely to resume their full media commitments soon. This will serve as a welcomed shot in the arm, especially for the Women’s NRL competition which has battled for media attention amidst heavyweight coverage of the Matildas.