Rugby League Players Threaten Boycotts Over NRL Demand For Private Records
Rugby players "flexed their muscle in an extraordinary show of force" on Monday, ramping up talk of a potential boycott of the Dally M medal ceremony and National Rugby League commercial activities during the semifinals "if a new pay deal with the game's governing body is not reached," according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. There was as much as A$80M ($63.5M) in talent in the room as "nearly 300 players turned out for an hour-long meeting" called by the Rugby League Players Association in Sydney. Representative players Boyd Cordner, Daly Cherry-Evans, James Graham, Mitchell Pearce, Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita were among nearly 180 players to show up in the city, and were joined by video link by "dozens of others" from non-Sydney teams and interstate players including RLPA President and Test captain Cameron Smith. Four days after club execs agreed to a A$9.4M ($7.5M) salary cap for next season and called on players to accept a "best and final offer" for a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, the game's content providers are "holding firm." While the RLPA is not disputing the cap figure, the two parties "remain at odds over the exclusions of particular revenue streams and other issues" such as welfare, insurance and the NRL's desire to have access to players' bank and phone records for integrity investigations (SMH, 8/21).
'SEEMS UNREASONABLE':In Sydney, Brent Read reported Cronulla player James Maloney and Parramatta captain Tim Mannah were asked on Monday "whether they would be comfortable handing over their bank records to the NRL." Their response "hinted at the divide that remains" between the NRL and the players' union. Maloney said, "I don't think it is necessary -- would you hand over your records to your boss? It seems unreasonable. There is not too many other people in the world who have to hand over their bank records to their boss. It's something that's a bit of a touchy subject." RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast confirmed the players had "discussed their next step if talks failed to progress." NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has been warned that a boycott of the Dally M medal "remains an option," as does court action as the players "test the legality of the salary cap" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/22). Also in Sydney, Christian Nicolussi reported if Monday's "massive show of support" did not send a "clear message" to League Central, "talk of boycotts certainly will." Prendergast said, "We can't rule out taking action. We certainly didn't discuss the World Cup as to whether players would consider boycotting that. We think it can be avoided. We believe by locking ourselves away we will get this deal done." Maloney added, "We haven't ruled anything out at this stage" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/21).