Rugby Australia lifts commitment to Women's Rugby and Wallaroos

Thu, Feb 15, 2024, 9:59 PM
Rugby Australia
by Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia has increased its investment in Women’s Rugby for the second successive year, committing to additional funding, more Tier 1 contracts for Wallaroos players, and higher player payments, as the code aims to implement a world-class high-performance system in Women’s XVs.

The uplift comes on the back of a promising season for the Wallaroos in 2023, capped by a third-place finish at World Rugby's inaugural WXV global tournament in New Zealand last November.

With the women’s 2029 Rugby World Cup to be held at home, Australian Rugby has a unique opportunity to build a meaningful and lasting legacy for Women’s Rugby as it embarks on the runway towards this marquee event.

The second phase of the planned staged increase in investment sees more than $3 million of additional funding injected into the women’s game across Wallaroos, Buildcorp Super Rugby Women’s and high-performance systems.

Beginning in 2024 and running through 2025 - the year of the next women’s Rugby World Cup – the new investment represents an increase of 61% over 2023, which itself saw an increase of 60% over 2022.

Some key points:

Wallaroos

  • Following the introduction of the first central contracts in 2023, some Wallaroos players have been offered two-year agreements for the first time across Tiers 1 and 2.
  • The number of top-tier contracts has increased from 15 to 23, with the possibility of increasing that number throughout the course of 2024.
  • Players contracted at the highest tier can earn up to $72,458 per year in RA payments for Wallaroos and Super Rugby Women’s participation combined (a 28% increase from the maximum of $56,000 in 2023).
    • These figures do not include additional player payments made by Super Rugby clubs.
  • In total, a list of up to 45 players (ten more than 2023) will be contracted across three tiers – with the opportunity for additional players to be invited into the squad to aid player development.
  • All tiers have the capacity for an increase in the total amount a player can earn when compared to 2023.
  • A new unlimited fourth tier will allow for greater flexibility, with additional players able to be brought into squads. These players are included in the broader Managed Player Group and will receive assembly fees and incidentals allowances.

Super Rugby Women’s

  • All Super Rugby Women’s players will continue to receive an RA-funded minimum payment of $4,000 in addition to any club payments for the five-rounds-plus-Finals season.
    • RA’s minimum payment is intended to be additional to club payments – Super Rugby clubs may contribute payments over and above the minimum RA payments.

Jaime Fernandez, Rugby Australia National Women’s High-Performance Manager:

“Rugby Australia is continuing to invest in Women’s Rugby – in 2023 we saw an additional $2 million of funding, we appointed the first full-time head coach of the Wallaroos, and the first dedicated women’s high-performance manager.

“In 2024, we will see further increased player payments, multi-year contracts, and an increase in the number of the highest tier of contracts.

"Significantly, we are seeing Super Rugby clubs making similar commitments to the women's game, with increases in investment, and hiring of more dedicated staff within their women's programs.

“This investment and the structure that we are building has been developed to build a critical mass and retention of key players – steps that will support an increase in training hours and time spent together as a team, which we believe will lead to greater success at international level.

“Naturally, we are focused on the next Rugby World Cup in England in 2025, however this is part of a strategy to build a sustainable model that will deliver a highly competitive performance at our home World Cup in 2029.

“We have loaded our Player Agreements towards the Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories, with most contracts at the highest tier tabled for two years to build stability for 2025.”

Phil Waugh, Rugby Australia CEO:

“We have identified Rugby Australia’s Sevens program as the benchmark for us to emulate, as one of the most elite full-time and fully professional women’s sports programs in the country – which has achieved remarkable success for more than a decade.

“We saw a significant increase in participation among women and girls last year, and much of that was in Sevens.

“This followed an unprecedented 2022 when our Women’s Sevens team won all three major trophies on offer, proving that success can genuinely drive interest and participation – and this is the opportunity with Women’s XVs.

“We will continue to grow the women’s game in a sustainable and responsible way – we still have a lot of work to do, but the increase in our commitment over the last two years shows our determination to continue pushing forward.”

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