New Zealand Rugby splash the cash to keep players at home in new CBA deal

All Blacks
All Blacks (Getty file)

New Zealand Rugby players will receive an extra $70 million over the next three years as part of a new collective employment agreement.

Retaining and rewarding experienced, loyal players is a feature of the agreement, with an expansion of the existing incentive payment scheme aimed at recognising players who commit to the Mitre 10 Cup and NZ Rugby beyond the end of Super Rugby.

Players who have been contracted to a provincial union for five years or more will receive an annual $7,500 bonus, while players contracted to a Super Rugby franchise for the same period will receive an extra $35,000.

The payments will cost NZR an extra $3.7m over the next three years to $9.8m. 

Increases in retainer payments for provincial, Super Rugby, and men's and women's Sevens players will cost the union an extra $9m over the period of the agreement to $24.8m. 

The agreement also sees the introduction of protocols and policies for Respect and Inclusiveness, Player Conduct and Team Functions, and Illicit Drugs formally adopted by NZ Rugby and the Players Association.

The boost to top-up and incentive payments is a concerted effort to prevent experienced players, particularly All Blacks, chasing big paydays offshore.

Stalwarts such as Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg and Ben Smith have all attracted big-money European offers and may be lost to Test rugby after next year.

"More money is going to go essentially into giving us a chance to retain players," NZ Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said.

"It's a balance between retaining our top 40 players who are our superstars, our All Blacks, and also ensuring our Super clubs have top-talented kids."

The uptick in player payments is primarily a result of increased revenue, with commercial sponsorship and the 2017 Lions series boosting NZ Rugby coffers.

Under the agreement between NZ Rugby and the NZRPA, players are entitled to exactly 36.56 per cent of all player-generated NZ Rugby revenue.

"If we can all work well together and generate extra dollars, we know it's shared, and that's respected and aligns us to common goals," NZRPA boss Rob Nichol said.

As part of the payment pool, more money will also be allocated towards expanding off-field player development programmes.

This includes a new and confidential illicit drug-testing regime, as well as a compulsory programme on respect, diversity and professional conduct.

A savings scheme will also be implemented for Super Rugby players and those in the NZ Sevens environment, running alongside Kiwisaver.

"We need to ensure our young men and women are fully supported and well-educated, we do put our players under a lot of pressure," Mr Sorensen said.

"If we can assist our players in being better people, we're also confident we'll get better on-field results as well."


* $191m for player payment pool ($15m withheld)

* $21k minimum provincial contract retainer, $55k maximum

* $75k minimum Super Rugby retainer, $195k maximum

* $7500 All Blacks assembly fee for Test weeks

* $9.2m for new savings scheme on top of Kiwisaver

* $1.45m annually for personal development programmes.