2017 RUPA Annual Report

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Robbie Abel

Jermaine Ainsley

Cruze Ah-Nau

Nigel Ah Wong

Richard Arnold

Steven Cummins

Allan Alaalatoa

Marcel Brache

Dominic Day

Chris Alcock

Luke Burton

Jack Debreczeni

Ben Alexander

Lewis Carmichael

Murray Douglas

Rory Arnold

Adam Coleman

Tom English

Tom Banks

Robbie Coleman

Colby Fainga’a

Jarrad Butler

Angus Cottrell

Harley Fox

Sam Carter

Pekahou Cowan

Pama Fou

Tomas Cubelli

Ben Daley

Jackson Garden-Bachop

Thomas Cusack

Tetera Faulkner

Harrison Goddard

James Dargaville

Peter Grant

Esei Haangaana

Blake Enever

Richard Hardwick

James Hanson

Saia Fainga’a

Onehunga Havili

Reece Hodge

Anthony Fainga’a

Ross Haylett-Petty

Mitch Inman

Lolo Fakaosilea

Dane Haylett-Petty

Sam Jeffries

Scott Fardy

Matthew Hodgson

Marika Koroibete

Kyle Godwin

Kane Koteka

Pat Leafa

Wharenui Hawera

Jono Lance

Robert Leota

Ben Hyne

Ryan Louwrens

Tyrel Lomax

Jordan Jackson-Hope

Semisi Masirewa

Jack Maddocks

Nick Jooste

Benjamin Matwijow

Amanaki Mafi

Tevita Kuridrani

Ben McCalman

Jack McGregor

Christian Leali’ifano

Billy Meakes

Sean McMahon

Ryan Lonergan

Luke Morahan

Ben Meehan

Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin

Isireli Naisarani

Tim Metcher

Josh Mann-Rea

Alex Newsome

Will Miller

Nic Mayhew

Chance Peni

Tom Moloney

Andrew Muirhead

Matt Philip

Sefanaia Naivalu

Joseph Powell

Tatafu Polota-Nau

Jonah Placid

De Wet Roos

Ian Prior

Jordy Reid

Scott Sio

Anaru Rangi

Culum Retallick

Faalelei Sione

Curtis Rona

Fereti Sa’aga

Jordan Smiler

Michael Ruru

Jake Schatz

Andrew Smith

Harry Scoble

Dominic Shipperley

Henry Speight

Mitch Short

Siliva Siliva

Tom Staniforth

Brynard Stander

Hugh Sinclair

Lausii Taliauli

Heath Tessmann

Toby Smith

Isaac Thompson

Francois Van Wyk

Mick Snowden

Aidan Toua

James Verrity-Amm

Nic Stirzaker

Rob Valetini

Shambeckler Vui

Lopeti Timani Alex Toolis Sione Tuipulotu Ikapote Tupai Jordan Uelese Ben Volavola Laurie Weeks






Quade Cooper

Cameron Clark

Mick Adams

Brooke Anderson

Kane Douglas

Andrew Deegan

Lachlan Anderson

Nicole Beck

Sef Fa’agase

Jack Dempsey

Tim Anstee

Charlotte Caslick

Chris Feauai-Sautia

Damien Fitzpatrick

Sam Caslick

Emilee Cherry

Nick Frisby

Israel Folau

Josh Coward

Chloe Dalton

Michael Gunn

Bernard Foley

Alex Gibbon

Dominique Du Toit

Reece Hewat

Jake Gordon

Lewis Holland

Georgina Friedrichs

Scott Higginbotham

Ned Hanigan

Henry Hutchison

Ellia Green

Leroy Houston

Bryce Hegarty

Ed Jenkins

Demi Hayes

Karmichael Hunt

Jed Holloway

Simon Kennewell

Mahalia Murphy

Samu Kerevi

Michael Hooper

Boyd Killingworth

Shanice Parker

Philip Kite

Robert Horne

Tom Kingston

Shannon Parry

Adam Korczyk

David Horwitz

Tom Lucas

Evania Pelite

Chris Kuridrani

Harry Jones

Nick Malouf

Tiana Penitani

Alex Mafi

Maclean Jones

Pat McCutcheon

Alicia Quirk

Campbell Magnay

Andrew Kellaway

Tate McDermott

Hannah Southwell

Lachlan Maranta

Sekope Kepu

Liam McNamara

Cassie Staples

Jake McIntyre

Tolu Latu

Matt McTaggart

Emma Sykes

Stephen Moore

David Lolohea

Conor Mitchell

Emma Tonegato

Eto Nabuli

Matthew Lucas

Sam Myers

Brooke Walker

Cadeyrn Neville

Mack Mason

Ben O’Donnell

Sharni Williams

Jayden Ngamanu

Ryan McCauley

Jesse Parahi

Duncan Paia’aua

David McDuling

Dylan Pietsch

Izaia Perese

Dean Mumm

John Porch

Andrew Ready

Taqele Naiyaravoro

Brandon Quinn

Izack Rodda

Sam Needs

Kirwan Sanday

Nick Phipps

Robert Simmons

Hugh Roach

James Slipper

Tom Robertson

George Smith

Reece Robinson

Moses Sorovi

Patrick Ryan

Hamish Stewart

Matthew Sandell

Henry Taefu

Irae Simone

Sam Talakai

William Skelton

Caleb Timu

Angus Ta’avao

Lukhan Tui

Senio Toleafoa

Hendrik Tui

Michael Wells

Taniela Tupou

Bradley Wilkin

James Tuttle Markus Vanzati



2017 will unquestionably be remembered as the most challenging year Australian Rugby and all professional players have faced, if not ever then certainly since the game turned professional. One of RUPA’s strengths in recent years has been its capacity to appoint highly respected, great people into leadership roles within the organisation. Following Benn Robinson’s injury-enforced retirement in late 2016, his former teammate and the 84th Captain of the Wallabies, Dean Mumm succeeded him as President in early 2017. This was the only change to the RUPA Board from the year prior, representing great stability within the Executive.

With the challenges that the year would go on to concoct, it could not have been a more rigorous baptism for Dean. His engagement and leadership throughout the year was outstanding. The faith his peers showed in nominating him has repaid itself many times over and deserves recognition from the outset. It is difficult to reflect on 2017 without having the discontinuation of the Western Force and the associated protracted process to rationalise Super Rugby front of mind. The Australian Rugby Union, now Rugby Australia, in conjunction with SANZAAR formalised their decision in April, but it was not until August that the Force’s legal challenges had been exhausted and the matter was resolved. In the face of stark uncertainty and escalated anxiety, the professional playing group remained united and deeply committed to supporting one another throughout the year.


One of the fallacies of the process was that it was only the players at the Force or the Melbourne Rebels who were affected. Whilst those players bore the brunt of the intense media scrutiny, the broader and more accurate picture is that of players at all five teams struggling to plan for their futures, with contracting decisions nationally affected by the cut. RUPA advocated for the retention of five teams, both internally and externally, throughout the entire process and did everything within our jurisdiction and persuasion to attempt to influence change. The RUPA membership, led by the Player Directors on the RUPA Board, should be very proud of the responsible but assertive position that their Association took on their behalf. RUPA tried to influence the final ARU and SANZAAR outcome, and executed a number of initiatives from

contributions over his decade in the game and a fine legacy for future generations. On the field, a young Men’s Rugby Sevens squad finished the 2016/17 season sixth on the World Series. This was an improvement on eighth the year prior, having blooded an exciting mix of young emerging talent under Andy Friend’s guidance. Our Women’s Rugby Sevens squad had a difficult year with targets on their backs, following their Gold Medal performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and their 2015/16 World Series win, however they represented Australia well finishing in second place behind New Zealand Amidst the hugely distracting off-field dynamics of Super Rugby, the Brumbies continued to stamp their claim as the most consistent Australian side, topping the Australian conference. As the only qualifier for the finals, their season would finish in a tough quarterfinal against the Hurricanes in Canberra.

public relations strategies to formal constitutional processes. At all times, the welfare of all professionally contracted players was paramount to RUPA, and support for players’ wellbeing continued alongside consistent focus on off-field development. RUPA does not shy away from the fact that we disagree with the ARU’s decision and we will continue to stand up for the players’ interests as we exercise our voice as a critical partner in the future of the game. Beyond that headline challenge, it is imperative that we also reflect and give acknowledgement is to the significant achievements of the year. For RUPA, the most significant of these was indisputably reaching agreement for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2018 to 2020. Our negotiating team was very well lead by Ross whose tireless work made achieving the agreement in a tight time frame possible. The key outcomes of that agreement are captured within this Report, and suffice to say that the new CBA strongly improves Australian Rugby’s positioning as an employer of choice for talented male and female athletes of the future. In 2017, Australian Rugby saw the curtain drawn on the playing career of four legends of the game, all of whom have had very close connections with RUPA over the years.

• Stephen Moore called time on a 118 Test and 176 game Super Rugby career. Having played over 300 professional matches, Stephen’s record puts him amongst the greatest players of all time. Stephen also retired from the RUPA Board at the end of 2017, finishing as the longest-serving Player Director in RUPA’s history; • Matt Hodgson played his 140th and final Super Rugby match with the Force in the final round of the 2017 competition, and also stepped down from the RUPA Board in October 2017. Matt represented the Wallabies on 11 occasions, Captaining Australia against the Barbarians in 2014; • Dean Mumm concluded his outstanding career, finishing with 116 Super Rugby Caps and 56 Wallaby Test appearances, and concluding his term as President of RUPA in January 2018. Dean has since been appointed as a Co-Opted Director on the RUPA Board (and just making the publishing deadline for this report, has returned from trekking to the North Pole for the Borne Foundation); • 2017 would also be the last time that Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens most capped player Ed Jenkins would take to the field, after he suffered a shoulder injury in December’s World Series tournament in Dubai, drawing to a close his record-breaking and program-defining career. The professionalism and growth of the Sevens program is a testament to Ed’s


The Brumbies and the Waratahs contested the “Daniel Vickerman Cup” for the inaugural time in March, with the nowannual trophy recognising Daniel’s contributions to both teams throughout his playing days. Daniel’s passing in February 2017 remains a shock and a tragic reminder to us all that we are all never too tough to open ourselves up to support from others. The Australian Rugby community misses Daniel immensely, and we remain here for the Vickerman family. Finally, my sincere thanks to Ross and the staff of RUPA who did not waiver through a very demaniding year. Due to their energy and the players’ unity, RUPA remains strongly focused on promoting what is best for Rugby in Australia. From the board room, to the floor of the Federal Senate Inquiry, we will continue to represent, advocate and develop our members so that they can be better people, better players and live better lives.


The saying goes that sport doesn’t build character, it reveals it. In 2017, players showed resilience in ways off the field that we never thought they would have to.

had a tremendous impact on all current and past players. RUPA and the entire Rugby community rallied to offer fantastic assistance and support, understanding that no two people grieve the same in situations such as these and that the most important thing was to take care of his family.

The 2017 year began with my peers electing me to the role of RUPA President, where I was fortunate to succeed a long-time mate in Benn Robinson. I want to formally acknowledge and thank the players for the opportunity that was afforded to me.

The second was the ARU’s announcement that they would be axing a super rugby franchise and that either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force were on the block. This presented an unprecedented and extremely challenging period to which RUPA took a firm and vocal stance against the ARU’s decision.

Notwithstanding that the final decision was in conflict with RUPA’s strategic view. A terrific amount of credit must go to you all for the unity of all players. I am proud that we bound together to back the Stronger as Five message publicly and across their own social media channels. There was not a single player nationally that took a public position in contrast to the best interests of their peers.

Over the months ahead, we continued to play Super Rugby and inbound Test matches with this looming threat over our heads and the different ways in which it would affect all players and their contemporaries became evident. It is fair

I particularly want to recognise my colleagues on the RUPA Board for the leadership and support they provided within each of their professional programs, with special mention to Tom English (Rebels) and Matt Hodgson (Force)

Benn left huge shoes to fill, and it didn’t take long for things to ramp up as there were two significant events early on. The first was the devastating loss of Daniel Vickerman. A good friend of mine and of many, I believe the loss of the big V


to say that performance was affected universally by the constant and draining media speculation, as well as the obvious uncertainty which affected every single contracted men’s Rugby player in the country.

whose franchises were under threat. I sat at the back of the ARU Extraordinary General Meeting with Tom and Matt at the end of June as we collectively lobbied the room that Australian rugby is Stronger as Five, and I would like to thank them for the amount of personal time that they gave to represent their teammates. On a more positive note, I was honoured to play my part in the securing an historic new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). With the previous CBA expiring at the end of 2017, securing this Agreement was a priority for all parties and it was important to establish some certainty and stability in order to put recent challenges behind us. The agreement allows all parties to draw a line in the sand and move forward towards a more prosperous future for Australian Rugby. In the professional era, negotiations for a CBA had never fallen this close to the Agreement’s expiry. These negotiations required almost unprecedented commitment from RUPA’s Board Members and other senior professional players, and I want to especially acknowledge and thank Damien Fitzpatrick, Bernard Foley, Andrew Kellaway, Shannon Parry, Alicia Quirk, Paddy Ryan and James Stannard for their contributions to achieving a number of fantastic outcomes for players. The inclusion of elite women’s players under the CBA for the very first time and securing pay equality through a minimum base contract for all fully contracted professional players at both Super Rugby and Rugby Sevens level, will leave a legacy where Australian women now get suitably rewarded for the tremendous efforts they put into the jersey they wear.

notable gains from a leave and rest perspective, which will ensure players are given every opportunity to pursue further interests away from Rugby in order to aid their eventual transition away from the game and to help prevent player burnout.

the process. It is sometime safer to stay ignorance about the issues that affect you and the other rugby players in Australia; however it is far more interesting and rewarding to get involved and impact the change you want to see.

Ensuring that players continue to own their own wearable performance data, and setting up the framework so that the players will receive their fair share of any revenue generated by this. It also represents an important distinction as the CBA embraces the ways in which technology has evolved in the coverage of our game.

I want to thank all RUPA members for having faith in me to represent their best interests and I have no doubt that ‘Fitzy’ will repay the faith the players have now put in him by the excellence he will bring to the role. I’m pleased to be able to continue to contribute to the RUPA Board, in my new role as Co-Opted Director.

Whilst both parties made concessions in order to secure the Agreement, the negotiations that have transpired amidst a highly-challenging landscape were respectful, transparent and fair. Having been present throughout negotiations on behalf of the players, I would like to thank Bill Pulver and the team at the ARU for the respectful, dignified and fair manner in which they conducted the negotiations. Personally, I would like to thank Bruce Hodgkinson SC, Sally Fielke and Ross Xenos for their guidance and support throughout not only the CBA negotiations, but the entire year. RUPA is in good shape under their leadership. Having made the decision to retire at the end of the 2017 season, a replacement President was required to be elected and I was delighted to see Damien Fitzpatrick announced as my successor. Having played, trained and sat in a boardroom alongside him, I have no doubt he will excel in the role. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve as RUPA President and have learnt a lot about myself and the game in

Other outstanding outcomes included


I’d like to thank RUPA’s staff, both those based in Head Office but also the Player Development Managers around the country, for their ongoing commitment and hard work to look after the players’ best interests. Finally, I’d like to thank all players. As a collective organisation our strength is in unity. RUPA provides the conduit for this unity and allows trusted advocates to action the change that we as a collective see as the best for the game. The players’ unwavering support of RUPA is the single most important ingredient in ensuring players are rightly acknowledged as a key stakeholder in Australian Rugby.


Dean Mumm

Bruce Hodgkinson SC



Bernard Foley

James Slipper

Tom English

Matt Hodgson





Stephen Moore

Ed Jenkins

Shannon Parry

Scott Sio





Adam Wallace-Harrison

Sally Fielke

Ross Xenos






The Wallabies winning the third Bledisloe was a ray of hope for Australian Rugby after a frustrating 2017 off the field, as a new CBA drew a line in the sand for the game to look forward to greater success with certainty, stability and equality.

Paper entitled “Australia’s Future in Super Rugby”. From that Paper forwards, RUPA, on behalf of Australia’s current and future professional Rugby players, vehemently opposed any reduction of Australia’s Super Rugby representation from five to four teams as being in the best interests of Rugby in Australia.

Through the end of 2016 and into early 2017, RUPA and ARU engaged in numerous conversations regarding SANZAAR’s review of the Super Rugby competition model for 2018.

More than conveying this message behind closed doors, when it was clear that both ARU and SANZAAR had an appetite for exploring a reduction in early 2017, RUPA had obligation to our members and in accordance with the Objects of our Constitution to advocate strongly and publicly on this issue.

This included constructive dialogue at our joint Board Meeting on 27 October 2016, which followed RUPA providing ARU with our consolidated views and recommendations in October 2016 in a

Throughout 2017 we launched a series of public relations and strategic measures. We launched our “Stronger As Five” campaign which garnered substantial public and social media support,


accompanied by an online petition which featured 3,927 electronic signatures from across the country. In late May, RUPA joined with the Victorian Rugby Union to call for an extraordinary General Meeting of the members of the ARU in an attempt to bring greater transparency to the process that the ARU and SANZAAR were conducting. Importantly, it was an opportunity to bring all members together to look beyond their own self-interest and discuss the broader implications for Rugby in Australia from axing a team. RUPA was bold in putting three resolutions to the Meeting to support the retention of five teams and also create a Super Rugby Commission to provide a collaborative vehicle for determining Australia’s position on Super Rugby matters in future. This Commission resolution was successful albeit that it has not been activated by the game’s administration since then.

Whilst these endeavours in themselves did not shift the needle of the ARU’s decision making to revert back to a position of retaining all five teams, the public debate and critical assessment of the ARU position was a challenge RUPA was required to take up which was the catalyst for other benefits.

teams however is on approximately 40 players – from across the five teams who were forced out of the Australian Rugby system to overseas opportunities due to less contracts being available in 2018. This issue of contract opportunities then became a threshold item for CBA negotiations.

Player Contracting Moratorium

Senate Inquiry

ARU took a position early in the rationalisation process to place a unilateral freeze on all players capacity to contract with any Australian Super Rugby team under a Player Contracting Moratorium. The pursuit of certainty to inform players’ decision making is in itself not an adverse objective, however, a protracted blanket ban on contracting was unacceptable to the players. Through extensive advocacy in accordance with the CBA, RUPA was able to successfully lift the Moratorium and allow players to once more enter into contracts with the Rugby Bodies.

Following the ARU’s final decision to discontinue the Western Force, a Federal Senate Inquiry was launched into the “Future of Rugby Union in Australia”. With an extremely broad scope and being an unprecedented foray by Federal Government into the jurisdiction of a national sporting organisation, it was unclear as to what its true objectives were. After lengthy deliberation, the RUPA Board agreed that it was important for RUPA to once more represent the interests of its members and the game by actively participating in the Inquiry.

Writing this report with the value of hindsight, this may have been RUPA’s single greatest achievement of 2017. With the Moratorium lifted, by the time the ARU had made their final decision in August 26 players were contracted to the Western Force beyond 2017 and their legal rights were pristinely protected by their contracts and the Moratorium settlement.

On 11 October 2017 I fronted my first and what I hope will be my last Senate Inquiry. Additionally, RUPA provided a frank submission to the Inquiry of each of our public statements throughout 2017.

Those 26 players have subsequently made their own decisions on their futures and in 2018: - 11 are at the Rebels; - 5 are at the Brumbies; - 3 are at the Waratahs; - 1 is at the Reds; and - 6 players remained in Perth. The hidden toll of the rationalisation of

The outcomes and recommendations from the Inquiry certainly endorsed the Board’s decision to participate. Not only is RUPA’s position on the Hansard in perpetuity, but the first and most significant recommendation of the Inquiry was that: The committee recommends that the Australian Sports Commission consider an additional principle to be introduced in the Commission’s Sports Governance Principles in relation to National Sporting Organisations’ commitment and duty to player welfare.


Indo-Pacific Rugby Following the removal of the Force from Super Rugby, it did not take long for prominent West Australian visionary Mr Andrew Forrest to take up the challenge of creating not just a lifeline to keep the team and the professional pathway alive in Western Australia, but also launching the prospect of an entirely new competition venturing into new developing markets such as Sri Lanka, South Korea, China and Indonesia. RUPA embraced a dual engagement strategy with Indo-Pacific Rugby; firstly, we were included by the ARU, now Rugby Australia, in their stakeholder working group around the development of that competition led by Brett Robinson. And secondly, we remained in close contact with Rugby WA in relation to the ongoing opportunity of keeping the Western Force alive as a professional side. It has since been announced that in 2018 the Western Force will participate within an exhibition competition called “World Series Rugby” and that planning remains on track to establish the IPRC in 2019. RUPA remained in dialogue with contracted players in Perth throughout 2017 and supported their transition into employment with the Western Force 2.0. Collective Bargaining Agreement With strong Board leadership, and extensive consultation with the current playing group including several players directly joining the negotiation table, a new CBA was able to be agreed in late 2017 to run through to the end of 2020. More details on the new CBA are provided over the page.

RUPA Player Alumni For several years RUPA had retracted its service offering to past players, with limited resources and an expanding professional membership requiring assistance. In 2017 - and in truth, in response to suffering the tragedy of Daniel Vickerman’s passing - RUPA has stepped up more prominently into the past player space and we are driving our capacity harder than ever before to create engagement and support structures for past players. This includes the formation of the RUPA Player Alumni - for current and past players - detailed later in this repor and also the rollout of Mental Health fundamentals education in 2017 which will be ramped up in 2018 and beyond. Player Development Since 2001, RUPA has utilised the financial investment provided via the CBA to provide professional players with a program focused on their personal development outside of Rugby. In 2017, RUPA was able to expand these services further by transitioning Sevens PDM, Gina Rees, into a full-time role. RUPA’s commitment to players’ advancing their education and qualifications has arguably been one of our major successes over the years, with players provided the opportunity to receive reimbursement for a portion of their studies from RUPA each year via the Training & Education Fund. 2017 saw 106 players enrolled at University and 70% of players engaged off the field in their personal development. This included 118 current and past players who were provided with over $375k in education reimbursements.

Rosemary Towner continues to lead RUPA’s PDP and I would like to acknowledge her efforts in continuing to advance the PDP. Equally, I’d like to thank all PDMs – Gina, Matt, Lachie, Robin and Kim – for their ongoing support of and for always putting RUPA members first amidst what has been a highly challenging year. Commercial Partners RUPA is fortunate to have an avid coterie of sponsors and business partners, who provide various means of support, as well as direct expertise and benefits to players. I would personally like to thank each of the below for their contributions to our successes in 2017: • Jason Murray and Gary McMahon from NAB Private • Grant Saxon and Clayton Eveleigh from BDO • Greg Bosnich and Oscar de Vries from Volvo Car Australia • Jamie Barkley and Jason Hill from Allianz Stadium • Tony and Josephine Sukkar from Buildcorp • Karl Truijiens from PSC Australian Reliance • Campbell Fisher from FCB Group • Mitchell Taylor, Cameron Crowley and Emmalene Lovelock from Taylors Wines • Rob Regan, Brian Knight and Vicky Labroski from Kaplan • David Segal, Chelsea Spindler and the team at Front Row Group.


Final Acknowledgements RUPA is proud of the robust and respectful working relationship that we have with Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams. The breadth of RUPA’s remit means it is impossible to thank all those who we engage with, however, my personal thanks to outgoing CEO Bill Pulver for his collaboration with RUPA over the last five years. We welcome new RA CEO Raelene Castle to the post and we look forward to developing a strong working relationship with an experienced sports leader. Thank you to all RUPA Board Members for the time that you sacrifice to lead this organisation. We speak often about the importance of “legacy” in Australian Rugby, and all players should be proud knowing that their elected leaders take passionately and rationally represent their best interests and those of the game more broadly not just for today, but for the future. Thank you to all of RUPA’s Head Office staff for your patience, perserverance and belief during the hardest of times. Thank you to Gerard Phillips, Seamus Dalton, Richard Breden, Braham Dabscheck, John Langford, Cameron Day, Benn Robinson, Tom Kingston and Pat McCutcheon, who each volunteered their time to sit on joint RUPA-ARU committees in 2017. Lastly, an enormous thank you to RUPA’s members for your unity, engagement and determination in 2017. As Rugby faces its challenge to remain relevant in an everevolving and disrupted sports landscape it is the players’ voice, commitment and partnership with the game is more essential than ever.



Although it was announced in early 2018, a new CBA was very agreed very late in 2017 to replace the incumbent CBA which expired on 31 December 2017. The CBA has in the first instance been extended by a Term Sheet with a new longform CBA to be drafted and distributed in 2018. Official CBA Announcement by RUPA on 9 January 2018 The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA), Rugby Australia (Rugby AU) and Australia’s four Super Rugby teams are pleased to announce the execution of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), following months of robust but productive and private discussions between the parties. The new CBA is effective immediately and runs through to the end of 2020, in line with the current broadcast agreement. The new CBA positions Rugby to begin 2018 on a positive note and provides clarity for all professional Rugby stakeholders for the future. It also allows the game’s new leaders and administrators to begin their rejuvenation of the professional game from a stable and united platform, and provides security for the players as the game embarks upon this new era.For the first time, the new CBA sees the Wallabies, Wallaroos, all Super Rugby players and both Australian Rugby Sevens squads captured within its scope. New minimum terms and conditions have been agreed for each playing group, with the CBA retaining the revenue share model which sees players continuing to receive 29% of revenue generated by the professional game. Pay equality between Super Rugby and Rugby Sevens players – male and female – has also been achieved, with the entry level full-time minimum salaries replicated across the professional game. Rugby Sevens players will continue to be eligible to receive dAIS funding via the Australian Sports Commission in addition to these minimum RA contracts, while professional female players will also

now be protected by an industry leading Pregnancy Policy to provide support and security over their employment. In another first for the game, Wallaroos players will receive Test match payments for the first time from 2018. A new contracting model for Super Rugby has also been established which increases the number of full-time Super Rugby contract opportunities at each team, with all four Super Rugby clubs to contract a minimum of 36 full-time players (up to a maximum of 40). The overall Super Rugby salary cap has been adjusted to accommodate all full-time players at Super Rugby clubs to a total of $5.5million, with a 15% discount built-in to reward long-serving players. Importantly, a Rugby pathway within Western Australia has been retained, with the future of the National Rugby Championship (NRC) and the continued participation of a Western Australian team guaranteed for the length of the Agreement. RUPA President Dean Mumm said that the execution of the CBA was critical in order to allow for players to focus on Rugby in 2018. “With the previous CBA expiring at the end of 2017, securing this Agreement has been a priority for all parties and provides the certainty and stability to put recent challenges behind us,” Mumm said. “This agreement allows all parties to draw a line in the sand and move forward towards a more prosperous future for Australian Rugby. “Whilst both parties have made concessions in order to secure the Agreement, the negotiations that have transpired amidst a highly-challenging landscape have been respectful, transparent and fair. Having been present throughout negotiations on behalf of the players, I would like to commend Rugby Australia for the spirit of these discussions.” RUPA Chief Executive Ross Xenos said that the CBA prioritises high performance and player wellbeing as key’s to future success. “This CBA ensures that every player’s core conditions of employment continue to improve with every new season, whilst prioritising performance and wellbeing


through a range of initiatives which are designed to ensure that players are given every opportunity to thrive on and off the field,” Xenos said. “We’ve been able to address long-term concerns held by players in improving leave and rest scheduling, adding flexibility to the Super Rugby contracting model and importantly embracing all professional players across all formats and genders in a new CBA. “All players are committed to winning games of Rugby, be they Rugby World Cup finals, gold medal matches, at a Super Rugby or NRC level, or back with their Premier Rugby clubs, and that commitment now includes players making a $250,000 direct investment into performance and wellbeing support services each year of this new deal.” Outgoing Rugby Australia CEO Bill Pulver said: “I want to thank Ross and his team for what has been a tough but fair negotiation, which has provided an outcome that ultimately sets our game on a strong footing heading into the final three years of our current broadcast agreement. “While we continue to invest heavily in the professional game, Rugby Australia and RUPA have worked together to ensure that the game can address the issue of funding at the community level. “We have struck a balance that will allow greater investment in the community game, while ensuring that our High Performance programs are supported to deliver the on-field success that Rugby fans demand and deserve. “The new CBA is the first of its kind to incorporate all professional programs, including our Sevens teams and the Wallaroos, and importantly addresses key issues of pay equality and player welfare.” Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson said: “It is a credit to everyone involved that the game has been able to come together to achieve this outcome after a challenging year. “The new CBA provides a strong platform for the game to build upon and provides certainty to all stakeholders in the game for the duration of the current broadcast deal.”






Presented by Volvo

Presented by Taylor’s Wines



Nominees: Allan Alla’alatoa Amanaki Mafi Isi Naisarani George Smith Henry Speight

Nominees: Kurtley Beale Charlotte Caslick Adam Coleman Israel Folau Sharni Williams



Presented by PSC Australian Reliance

Presented by NAB Private



Nominees: Lachlan Anderson Alex Gibbon Simon Kennewell Liam McNamara

Nominees: Charlotte Caslick Chloe Dalton Shannon Parry Emma Tonegato




Presented by Kaplan Professional

Presented by BDO



Nominees: Emilee Cherry James Dargaville Tom English Dane Haylett-Petty Dom Shipperley

Nominees: Robbie Abel Richard Hardwick Mahalia Murphy Matt Sandell James Slipper



Presented by Allianz Stadium Winner MARIKA KOROIBETE


Nominees: Tim Anstee Marika Koroibete Isi Naisarani Emma Sykes

Nominees: Talyer Adams Jed Holloway Tom Cusack Duncan Paia’aua Rob Valetini





Cheyenne Campbell

904. Ned Hanigan vs. Fiji, 10th June 2017

Tevita Kuridrani vs. South Africa, 9th September 2017

Rebecca Clough

905. Karmichael Hunt vs. Fiji, 10th June 2017

Bernard Foley vs. South Africa, 30th September 2017

906. Richard Hardwick vs. Fiji, 10th June 2017

Ben McCalman vs. Wales, 11th November 2017

907. Joe Powell vs. Fiji10th June 2017 908. Eto Nabuli vs. Scotland, 17th June 2017 909. Jack Dempsey vs. Italy, 24th June 2017 910. Curtis Rona vs. New Zealand, 19th August 2017 911. Izack Rodda vs. New Zealand, 26th August 2017 912. Jordan Uelese vs. South Africa, 9th September 2017 913. Marika Koroibete vs. Argentina, 16th September 2017

916. Blake Enever vs. England, 18th November 2017 917. Taniela Tupou vs. Scotland, 25th November 2017

Fenella Hake Grace Hamilton Alisha Hewett Ashleigh Hewson


Evelyn Horomia

Michael Hooper vs. Brumbies, 18th March 2017

Kiri Longman

Sekope Kepu vs. Brumbies, 18th March 2017

Mahalia Murphy

Nick Phipps vs. Brumbies, 18th March 2017 James Hanson vs. Waratahs, 24th March 2017 Laurie Weeks vs. Brumbies, 15th April 2017 Mitch Inman vs. Jaguares, 14th July 2017

914. Lukhan Tui vs. South Africa, 30th September 2017 915. Matt Philip vs. Japan, 4th November 2017

Mollie Gray


Nareta Marsters

Hana Ngaha Shannon Parry Liz Patu Trilleen Pomare Sarah Riordan Emily Robinson Hilisha Samoa Kayla Sauvao Alexandra Sulusi Huia Swanell

Katrina Barker

Ashleigh Timoko

Millie Boyle

Samantha Treherne

Louise Burrows

Violeta Tupuola

Chloe Butler

Sharni Williams



Team Meetings Team Visits took on additional significance in 2017, primarily due to 2017 being the final year of the current CBA IV, but further necessity due to the Super Rugby review process that sought to remove one of Australia’s Super Rugby teams, essentially one-fifth of RUPA’s membership. Given the distance across which RUPA’s membership is spread, quarterly team visits provide the opportunity to engage face to face with our membership, updating them on RUPA’s activities, but more importantly creating a forum that allows genuine collaboration on hearing firsthand the views of and issues of importance to our membership. The work completed in 2016 team visits laid the groundwork for RUPA and its membership to be well-prepared and well-versed in the key strategic priorities

to advance through our negotiations in 2017, being 1) Future of Australian Rugby, 2) Performance and Wellbeing, 3) Image Rights & Commercial and 4) Player Pathways & Contracting. RUPA’s Stronger as Five petition was also borne out of RUPA’s January 2017 team visits, harnessing the collective disappointment and willingness to fight for 5 Australian teams, and it was this player engagement that initiated and drove RUPA’s position. RUPA also undertook a number of surveys during these team visits, designed to capture data on a variety of topics and issues. Central to this research was a project undertaken in association with the Australian Athletes Alliance, designed to benchmark each professional sporting team and code across the country. The insights generated allowed RUPA to substantiate our CBA platform with data


across Australian sport and drive targeted outcomes across identified areas of need. Throughout the latter half of 2017, Team Visits allowed RUPA to provide direct updates to the teams on both the Western Force removal process and the status of CBA negotiations. Although final approval of any CBA rests with the RUPA Board, it is imperative that the entire membership was sufficiently educated and updated throughout the process in order for the Player Directors to make informed decisions that were representative of their constituent playing groups. These face to face opportunities were invaluable to speak to the motivations behind the Rugby Bodies positions and outcomes of importance, identify where conflict lay and where opportunities for negotiation existed. This all-inclusive education process was imperative for players to be sufficiently knowledgeable in order to

behavioural changes that will be necessary to improve the current Australian Rugby High Performance system. Encompassing key elements such as player lifecycle, player wellbeing, athletic performance and coaching, RUPA’s presence allows the players a direct voice in key high performance decisions within the game. The focus of the Panel’s activities in late 2017 was the review of the national Talent ID system and each states’ Elite Youth Development (EYD) structures. A central pillar to the Panel moving forward will be the direct provision by the Players’ of $50,000 of wellbeing and performance funding to each Super Rugby team and the Sevens program. This willingness to financially contribute to their own high performance programs, a first in Australian sport, is a clear demonstration of the players commitment to the long term sustainability of the game. Agent Accreditation In 2017, RUPA managed the Accreditation of 48 Player Agents in Australia including a number of overseas based Agents. As part of broader CBA-reform and greater industry buy-in, the legitimacy of the Scheme continued to be enhanced and greater compliance was enforced by the Agent Accreditation Board with the support of the Rugby Bodies. The primary challenges confronting the Scheme in 2017 were the SANZAAR review into Super Rugby, the subsequent removal of the Western Force and the CBA negotiations, which had consequential effects on not only the Scheme itself, but on the broader player contracting framework established. own the negotiation process as well as the outcomes. Player Delegates RUPA’s Delegate structure, instituted in 2016, proved an invaluable resource for players and RUPA alike, given the significant challenges faced by the game and the constant need for communication between RUPA and its membership. In additional to this communication platform, the Delegate structure demonstrated its value as a succession planning platform, as Scott Sio transitioned from his role as a Delegate to the ACT Brumbies Player Director. 2017 Delegates RED: Sam Talakai & Kane Douglas WAR: Michael Hooper & Andrew Kellaway BRU: Jarrad Butler & Ben Alexander

FOR: Ian Prior & Ross Haylett-Petty REB: James Hanson & Sam Jefferies W7s: Chloe Dalton & Alicia Quirk M7s: Tom Kingston & Nick Malouf High Performance Panel A key outcome of the CBA V negotiation was RUPA’s place on the newly constituted Australian Rugby High Performance Panel. Charged with overhauling and centralising Australian rugby’s disparate high performance ecosystem, the Panel identified and developed, in consultation with rugby stakeholders, a strong unity of purpose as essential for the game of rugby in Australia; with ‘Winning Wallabies & National Teams’ becoming the primary focus of the Australian Rugby High Performance system. This unity of purpose provides a shared objective which will be pivotal to drive cultural and


The Board, through RUPA, maintained regular dialogue, with the Accredited Agent cohort through a variety of communication channels, which allowed the Board to communicate important information and updates to all Accredited Agents outside of the Accreditation Conference. Introduced in 2007 the RUPA Player Agent Accreditation Scheme aims to ensure that individuals and organisations representing Australia’s professional players demonstrate an appropriate level of understanding of Australian Rugby contracting and the key industry documents. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) mandates that Rugby Bodies must only deal with Agents Accredited under the Scheme. By becoming Accredited, Agents also become bound by the Scheme Code of Conduct and become aware of the


expectations that their players and RUPA hold in relation to the services that they provide. In order to become and maintain their Accreditation, all Agents must have: • Attended the full-day, annual RUPA Agent Accreditation Conference; • Satisfactorily completed a multiple choice exam based on the key employment contracts, scheme regulations, and standard agreements; • Have in place Professional Indemnity Insurance to a minimum value of $1 million; and • Made payment of the annual Agent Accreditation Fee. The Board revoked the Accreditation of a number of Agents, as well as sanctioning others with fines, for the failure to adhere the minimum Scheme requirements. The Board has been and will continue to be vigilant in this area to protect the integrity of the Scheme for the benefit of all stakeholders. Whilst RUPA administers the Scheme on a day-to-day basis, it is governed by a five-person Board, operating under a charter established by the Regulations of the Scheme. The members of the Agent Accreditation Board in 2017 were: • Mr Richard Breden, Independent Chairman • Professor Braham Dabscheck, RUPA Representative • Mr John Langford, ARU Representative • Mr Cameron Day, Accredited Player Agent Representative

• Mr Benn Robinson, Current Player Representative Patrick McCutcheon resigned from his Board position following the conclusion of his playing career as he transitioned to a role with the NSW Waratahs. The Board is extremely thankful for the contribution made by Patrick over his years on the Board, not only in advocating on behalf of the playing group, but the broader industry perspective brought to the table. The Board wishes Patrick success in his future endeavours. In addition to the Board Members, ARU Contracting Manager, Mr Andrew James, continued his involvement and the Board thanks him for the perspective and insight he brought to the Scheme throughout the year. The major initiative of the Accreditation Scheme continues to be the annual Agent Accreditation Conference. The centralised conference model continued in 2017, enhancing the networking ability of the day and ensuring a consistency in the messaging and content delivered. The 2017 Conference, hosted by RUPA General Manager, Player Services & Operations Toby Duncan, was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground in June. It was attended by more than 40 Accredited Agents. In an evolution of the Conference format, 2017 saw the introduction of a keynote speaker, being Andrew Condon, Head of Marketing at Gemba, who presented on ‘Digital Trends and the Future of Sport. The Conference was also significant for the attendance of the Wallaby Head Coach

and all five Super Rugby Head Coaches, plus Women’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh in a Professional Rugby Roundtable session. Thank you to all those who made time available to present at the conference. RUPA and the Accreditation Board strongly believe that Accredited Agents are a key stakeholder in the game. The Board continues to maintain a high expectation of their ability to represent the best interests of their players and advocate robustly and ethically on their behalf. The Board wishes to acknowledge the important role they play on behalf of players and thanks them for their support and counsel to their players. We thank all Accredited Agents in 2017 for their support of the Scheme and ongoing services to players. National Rugby Championship The 2017 National Rugby Championship, the fourth iteration of Australian Rugby’s third tier, continued to demonstrate its importance in the professional pathway, providing nearly 200 opportunities to non-contracted players as well as coaches, support staff and match officials from club rugby competitions across the country. In August 2017, RUPA and the ARU agreed to the 2017 NRC Memorandum of Understanding, containing the key provisions relating to the NRC, most notably: Player Contracting Rules and Benefits Compulsory nature of the RUPA Player Agent Accreditation Scheme Increased top up insurance for all non-


contracted players Guaranteed minimum payment for all non-contracted players, including those subsequently added to squads not originally in the initial 33 Pleasingly, significant feedback from the 2016 NRC Player Survey was incorporated in 2017 competition. In addition to extending the guaranteed minimum payment to injury replacement players who player more than 3 games, there was a reduction in the number of law variations. The 2016 NRC Player Survey noted that 44% of players were in favour of reverting to the same laws as Super Rugby, both from a game integrity perspective as well as ensuring the development pathway structures are as realistic as possible to Super Rugby. Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 saw the realisation of a process commenced by RUPA in 2016, to establish the Wallaroo eligibility process for those Women’s Sevens players who wished to be considered for selection for the 2017 WRWC. Unfortunately this process was necessary given the difficulties encountered by players in 2014, who wished to play for the Wallaroos at the 2014 WRWC whilst contracted to the Women’s 7s program.

Thankfully the right outcome was reached as a result of the year long process initiated and driven by RUPA and the perseverance of the playing group. Sevens co-captains, Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry, as well as Mahalia Murphy were selected for the Wallaroos 2017 Rugby World Cup squad, with Shannon Parry named as Captain. Superannuation In consultation with our Superannuation brokers, the Sherlock Group, RUPA undertook a tender process for the Professional Player Superannuation Policy, which was extended to include the Australian Rugby Union and other State Bodies. Keeping the various Policies distinctly separate, but utilising the aggregate funds under management, RUPA was able to leverage far superior tender proposals than would have been possible operating independently. Incumbent providers, Colonial First State, were the successful party at the conclusion of the tender process. Tax Effectiveness RUPA, through our taxation partner BDO, obtained expert taxation advice relating to the treatment of both NRC


player payments and overseas earnings of Wallaby Test Match payments. In addition to this advice, RUPA continued its proactivity in the areas of image rights, retirement accounts and player data, advancing our dialogue with Anthony Jackson of KordaMentha. This association has allowed RUPA, in consultation with AAA and ATO to develop best practice in the establishment and treatment of the associated structures, from both commercial and legal perspectives. As the current structures created by the previous CBA begin to show their age, it is imperative that RUPA continues to drive an innovative and industry leading approach, both to ‘future-proof’ the next CBA as well explore and address future revenue sources as traditional streams continue to be disrupted.


Player Health, Safety & Integrity Committee (PHSI)

• Dr Seamus Dalton – Medical Advisor, RUPA

During 2017, the Committee continued to discuss pertinent issues relating to player welfare, including concussion and the Head Injury Assessment, heat guidelines, an Australian Rugby critical incident plan, the Supplements and Medical Policies, the Illicit Drug Policy and the safety and integrity pf playing surfaces.

• Mr Stephen Schmidhofer – Integrity Manager, ARU • Ms Rosemary Towner – General Manager Player Development, RUPA RUPA wishes to extend its thanks to all members of the Committee for their time and effort in 2017.

In 2017, the PHSI Committee consisted of: • Mr Gerard Phillips – Independent Chairman, Partner K&L Gates • Mr Richard Hawkins – General Counsel, ARU • Mr Ross Xenos – CEO, RUPA • Mr Baden Stephenson, General Manager Rugby, Melbourne Rebels • Mr Benn Robinson – Player Rep, RUPA • Dr Warren McDonald – Chief Medical Officer, ARU


Integrity Online Working with the ARU Integrity Unit, a comprehensive review of the process, platform and procedures of Integrity education was undertaken in 2017. The resulting streamlined system will be implemented by ARU for season 2018 across a number of levels of the game and will include Premiership rugby, Wallaroos, AON 7s, Super Rugby and Wallabies.


Attendees at the Induction Camp were the first participants of the new program and their knowledge and engagement with the various policies, procedures and expectations on professional Rugby players was testament to the success of the new learning style. Player Insurance In 2017, RUPA maintained its comprehensive mix of insurance policies safeguarding players from the financial impact of catastrophic injuries. The policy received one claim notification during 2017. Although it is both regrettable and unfortunate that players careers are ended prematurely through unexpected and ultimately career ending injuries, such claims are validation for the policy’s continued existence and benefit for players. In respect of the 2017 NRC, an additional ‘top up’ policy for minimum additional $250,000 on both Accidental Death

and Total Permanent Disablement for non-Contracted players was provided to complement the coverage provided by the RA Community Sports Injury Policy. RUPA continued to manage the administration and placing of an Income Protection Insurance Policy for Career Ending Injuries through our incumbent broker, PSC Australian Reliance. ARU Community Sports Injury Policy offering training and playing coverage for accidental death and spinal injuries; Maximum Benefit - $400k; Professional Player Capital Benefits offering additional 24/7 coverage for accidental death and severe spinal injuries; Maximum Benefit - $500k; and Professional Player Income Protection offering 24/7 coverage for players who suffer a single, accidental career ending injury. Maximum Benefit – 75% of base contract value for two years post expiry of playing contract, capped at $600k in total.


The continuation of the policy mix continues what RUPA believes is an Australian-first, with all professional players contributing to fund an insurance scheme for their benefit in lieu of Workers Compensation, which professional sportspeople are legislatively excluded from coverage. The RUPA membership continued to commit to the deduction of 2% of their total annual base salary to fund the policies’ income protection component. With the current policy mix in place, players can focus on playing the game and enjoy peace of mind knowing RUPA continues to ensure our members welfare is looked after. RUPA would like to thank our brokers PSC Australian Reliance and our underwriters SLE Worldwide for their continued assistance in the creation and placement of the income protection policy for career ending injuries. RUPA would also like to acknowledge the ARU for their ongoing financial investment, as required by the CBA, in protecting the game’s greatest asset.


RUPA Player Alumni RUPA’s Player Alumni program continued to grow and evolve in 2017, as it prioritised support and engagement with past players. RUPA hosted two events throughout 2017, before Super Rugby matches in Brisbane and Sydney, focusing on the topic of mental health. Both events featured over 20 members of the RUPA Alumni and enabled the players to catch up with some teammates and opponents from the past. The events were designed to facilitate an open discussion regarding mental health, and allowed the Alumni to relay personal and second-hand experiences related to transition. Clyde Rathbone and James Holbeck spoke openly and honestly at the Sydney event about their own personal experiences, while Holbeck was joined by David Croft and Dr. David Fitter in speaking at the Brisbane event. Dr. Fitter give a short

presentation on the clinical side of mental health and how help can be accessed through Medicare, with the attendance of a first female alumni member in Gemma Noller (nee Etheridge) OAM a particular highlight. We’re always looking at how we connect and engage with our Alumni, and this year saw us start up a private and exclusive RUPA Players Alumni group on Facebook. The group was created to allow all professional Rugby players from Australia, past and present, to stay connected. The group has many purposes including but not limited to; business networking, employment, hosting conversations about interesting topics, organising gettogethers, sharing what players are up to, sharing fundraising initiatives, posting photos of catch-ups and more. Currently the group has 165 members and is rapidly growing in both size and engagement. The 2017 Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch at The Ivy had its highest ever number of past players in attendance,


with nearly 30 in the room, including 14 members of the RUPA Centurions Club which was re-established with a presentation to all present who had represented Australian teams in 100 Super Rugby matches. The past players were situated on tables together which enabled the past players to catch up with former colleagues and also saw some players reengage with RUPA for the first time since their playing days. Classic Wallabies RUPA formalised a two-year partnership with the Classic Wallabies in 2017, which will see RUPA and the Classics collaborating to support past players of Australian Rugby. The partnership has enabled RUPA’s Player Relationship Manager, Patrick Phibbs, to attend tours and attain some quality time engaging with RUPA’s past player members, with RUPA also providing Communications assistance to the Classic Wallabies.


Sponsors & Partners RUPA values all its partnerships and would like to thank all of our partners for their support in 2017: Volvo, NAB Private, BDO, Kaplan Professional, Taylors Wines, FCB, PSC Australian Reliance, Buildcorp and Allianz Stadium. Each partnership has unique benefits that help RUPA run its day to day business and provides RUPA’s members with services and ongoing support. NAB Private co-hosted its third annual sports luncheon with RUPA, and asalways it involved a host of sports stars in attendance with RUPA fortunate enough to have Brendan Cannon present at the luncheon. Volvo again had the naming rights to the Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch, and with over 300people present in the room the lunch continues to grow in popularity and cement itself as one of the major events on the Australian Rugby calendar. Guests were treated to an outstanding range of Taylors Wines, with Mitchell Taylor addressing the guests with a rundown of the wine pairing with the food being served.

workshops at the annual Australian Rugby Induction Camp and Agents Accreditation Conference, as well as through tailored presentations within Australian’s professional Rugby programs. Australian Schools Rugby Union RUPA presented to all teams at the Australian Schoolboys Championships, held at Riverview College in June. The presentations are designed educate schoolboys around who RUPA is, and what we do to support our members. The presentations also focused upon other areas including the Australian Rugby contracting model, Australian Rugby pathways and competitions, Agent Accreditation Scheme, Mental Health, Social Media and the RUPA Player Development Program, with a particular focus upon the work RUPA does to ensure players are looking at life outside of Rugby. RUPA organised Mental Health champions Batyr to present at the Championships to all Australian Schoolboys. Batyr is an organisation who engage, educate and empower young people battling mental health on how to speak out about the issue.

Our Partners were also able to provide additional value through presentations and


Current players Paddy Ryan and Bernard Foley, who are both Ambassadors for Batyr, attended and played a key role in the presentation. RUPA provides two scholarships to support promising young Australian Rugby players in continuing their studies and personal development after their completion of their secondary schooling. Applicants must have played in at least one match for the Australian Schools Rugby Union team or Australian Schools Barbarians. In 2017, the two successful recipients were Noah Lolesio from QLD Schools and Seamus Smith from ACT Schools.


reimbursed to 118 players in 2017 through the training and education grant program

players enrolled in University and supported via the Elite Athlete Friendly University Scheme


of players actively pursued study, vocational courses or work experience in 2017

National PDP Committee The Player Development Program continued under the oversight of the joint industry National PDP Committee, which met twice in 2017 as required by it’s Charter document. The Committee consisted of: Chair – Matti Clements, Deputy Director (Athlete Wellbeing) AIS Stephen Schmidhofer – RA Integrity Manager Ben Whitaker – RA GM, High Performance Tim Rapp – NSW Waratahs, High Performance Manager Braham Dabscheck – Education Sector Expert Representative Tom Kingston – Player Representative Ross Xenos – RUPA CEO Rosemary Towner – RUPA GM, Player Development Matti was welcomed as the Independent Chair of the PDP Committee in December. Her wealth of knowledge and extensive background in elite sport provided an excellent successor to Daniel Vickerman. Human Resources & Staffing Gina Rees, PDM of the Sevens program moved to full time in January 2017 in a major step for the program, after commencing her role on a part time basis. The off-field issues at the Rebels and the Force afftected RUPA staff as they did the players, with both incumbent PDMs at

the start of the 2017 Super Rugby season resigning prior to the end of the year. Former Carlton AFL PDM Lyndall Down was appointed in February at the Rebls, however resigned less than 6 months later. Kim Gray filled that void in September., having been a former Team Manager of the Glasgow Warriors and Client Welfare Manager for Esportif in London. Most recently, Kim has focused on more administrative roles, having worked with Cricket Victoria, the Waratahs and St Kilda. Kim “hit the ground running” assisting approximately 20 players and staff to relocate to Melbourne within the first few weeks in her role. Sam Cox resigned from her position as PDM at the Western Force mid year. Due to the lack of clarity around the Super Rugby competition at that time, we were unable to advertise for a replacement however, Wallaby and qualified psychologist, James Holbeck was available to travel to Perth for an extended stay. James was a huge asset for the PDP and the players in an often tense and extreme time. His care, support and knowledge of rugby and the rugby environment was a key in making the situation slightly less stressful that it already was. Lachie McBain (Waratahs), Matthew Smith (Reds) and Robin Duff (Brumbies) continued their caring and specialised work in their respective Super Rugby Teams. Australian Athletes’ Alliance (AAA) There were four meetings of the AAA PDM



Committee in 2017 and two were hosted in the RUPA offices. Representatives from the Players’ Associations of Cricket, Basketball, AFL, Football and the NRL discussed topics and shared resources around Mental Health and wellbeing, critical incident support, education providers, industry qualifications and standards and overall developments in the Player Development space. AAA Concussion Working Group The AAA group and the Chief Medical Officers of AFL, Rugby, NRL and Cricket met with the Australian Institute of Sport to discuss funding opportunities. This meeting was hosted by RUPA. The group held a number of meetings and further investigation will be undertaken in 2018 to ensure the most effective use of resources and relevant outcomes can be achieved. International Rugby Players’ Association The 3rd meeting of the IRPA PDM’s took place in Dublin and saw Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, England, Wales, Pacific Islands and France together for the first time since 2012. Also in attendance was the World Players Association and FIFPRO. Discussion around international program pillars, alumni, gender, information tracking and servicing ratio’s were discussed. The meeting provided an opportunity for open discussion on a number of issues however some follow-up will be required through various sub-committees to be actioned in 2018.

2017 T&E GRANTS APPLICATIONS BREAKDOWN Number of Players - 118 Average Grant per Player - $3,185 Total T&E Grants Provided Funds - $375,868 TEAM






























Past Players





Men’s Sevens





Women’s Sevens












Certificate IV Youth Work

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Certificate IV Youth Work

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Certificate IV Youth Work

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Certificate IV Youth Work

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Certificate IV Youth Work

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Cert IV Property Services (Stock & Station)

Aust College of Professionals




Certificate IV Youth Work

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Private Pilots Licence (PPL)

Sydney Aviators




Bachelor of Arts

University of Sydney




Level 2 Coaching

Rugby AU




Level 2 Coaching

Rugby AU




Level 2 Coaching

Rugby AU




Level 2 Coaching

Rugby AU




Bachelor of Civil Engineering

University of Sydney




Excel Essentials

Wizard Corporate Training




Cert IV Youth Work





Level 3 Coaching

Rugby AU




Bachelor of Health, Sport & Physical Education

University of Queensland




Bachelor of Physiotherapy

University of Sydney


Foundation Referee & Coaching Course

Rugby AU


All Contracted Sevens Players James


Diploma of Business

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Diploma of Business

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Diploma of Business

Aus Vocational Training Academy




Bachelor of Sports Admin & Coaching





Level 2 - Coaching Accreditation

Rugby AU




Level 1 - Referee Course

Rugby AU




Diploma of Financial Planning





Bachelor of Sports Business

Griffith University




Bachelor of Arts and Applied Science

University of Sydney




Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Science)




CAREER & EDUCATION Elite Athlete Friendly University Network (EAFU) As a member of the EAFU, RUPA can lodge eligible players (CPS & EPS) enrolled at university to receive additional support as agreed between the University and the AIS. In 2017, 106 players were registered. Of that list, one was studying full time, nine players had deferred and all others are studyning part time. . Annual EAFU Conference The EAFU Conference was held in conjunction with University Sports in 2017. As well as attending, Gina Rees represented Rugby on the female sports representative panel which also included Ben Smith (GM Player Development Australian Cricket Association) and Daisy Pearce (AFLW player and AFLPA Board member).

WELLBEING South Pacific Private Hospital In pre-season 2017 the Waratahs PDM, Lachie McBain, worked with South Pacific to design and deliver a specialised series of seminars and workshops on mental health. The continued the strong relationship RUPA has with SPP in development programs unique to Rugby Union. Relationships Australia Relationships Australia continued their long and outstanding agreement with RUPA in providing access to counsellors for RUPA members and their immediate families. 2017 saw the greatest uptake in counselling access since the instigation of the PDP program in 2001. This was due to a number of reasons, not least of which, was the uncertainty of the competition format. A network of specialist psychologists also continues to be developed across the nation to provide clinical support where required. This service is available to past player members of RUPA. Our Watch In May 2017, RUPA supported Rugby Australia to undertake intensive training with Our Watch on domestic violence and violence against women. Joining Rosemary Towner, Lachie McBain, Matthew Smith, Gina Reese and Sam Cox were Matt Sandell (Waratahs), Ellia Green

(Women’s Sevens) and Lewis Holland (Men’s Sevens). Further education in this area will take place in 2018. Molemap A new skincheck program was delivered by RUPA to members via Molemap. In 2017, all squad members at the Sevens, Rebels and Reds were screened by specialist nurses with referrals as required. Level 3 Coaching Course The next generation of coaches undertaking their Level 3 Coaching accreditation received a presentation from RUPA on Mental Health and Wellbeing in rugby. The decision to educate these coaches aims to normalise the discussion around mental health and provide them with the tools to ensure their future players have every opportunity to perform at their best. It is also designed to acknowledge the stressful environment a coach can find him or herself in and provide signs and symptoms they should be aware of.

PERSONAL TOOLKIT Courses & Workshops Brumbies Property Investment Mental Health & Wellbeing Voyage to Greatness Pasifika Financial education Rebels Skincheck by Molemap Career Options Education Options Indigenous & Pasifika Cultural Workshops Men’s Sevens Social Media Skills Skincheck by Molemap Waves of Wellness Surf Therapy Domestic Violence Waratahs Mental Skills Workshop Microsoft Excel Training Voyage to Greatness BDO Financial Basics Team Building activity Women’s Sevens Mental Skills Social Media Skills Cooking Class Skincheck by Molemap Domestic Violence


Reds BDO Financial Basics Skincheck by Molemap CULTURAL AWARENESS Overall Non-Pasifika 115 Fijian 12 Tongan 21 Samoan 29 Maori 20 Indigenous 2 Papua New Guinean 1 Made up of: FORWARDS Non-Pasifika 66 Fijian 2 Tongan 16 Samoan 18 Maori 12 Indigenous 0 Papua New Guinean 0 BACKS Non-Pasifika 49 Fijian 10 Tongan 5 Samoan 11 Maori 8 Indigenous 2 Papua New Guinean 1



Toby Duncan

Rosemary Towner



Matthew Peterson

Robin Duff

Samantha Cox




Patrick Phibbs

Pete Fairbairn

Kim Gray

Matthew Smith






Gina Rees

Lachlan McBain






RUGBY UNION PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION INC. Level 1 / 10 Mallet Street Camperdown, Sydney NSW 2050, Australia T 02 9519 8211 F 02 9565 4953

www.rupa.com.au @RugbyPlayersAus

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