Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle slashes salary to match proposed player cuts

Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle.
Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle. Photo credit: Photosport

Under-pressure Rugby Australia (RA) boss Raelene Castle has slashed her own salary in a desperate bid to strike a player pay-cut deal with the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA).

Kiwi Castle had already accepted a 50 percent cut, but on Thursday, she told the Sydney Morning Herald that she would take another 15 percent off her AU$815,000 annual salary.

The Australian reported that RA had asked its 192 professional players to take a whopping 65 percent pay cut or Super Rugby clubs would have to stand down players.

"We've been head down, concentrating on trying to find a plan that protects the long-term viability of the game, looking under every rock to try to save every penny we can to make sure the game is on a stable footing for the long term," she said.

"Off the back of that, I've decided to take an additional 15 percent that will take my pay cut to 65 percent.

"Overnight, 80 percent of the game's revenue was turned off and, at the time, taking a 50 percent pay cut was the best thing I felt I could do to lead in this unprecedented situation. After another few weeks of work, the right number is 65 percent.

"It's the right thing to do. I have made that decision and recommended it to the board, because we're facing really tough times and have to make these calls. Like everyone through the game that's had to stand down and make difficult decisions, I'm no different."

No resolution was reached in talks before the start of Easter, as planned discussions with RUPA on Thursday were postponed, after an RA director fell ill.

RUPA had initially tabled an offer of a 42 percent wage cut for the next three months, but RA hit back, asking for a bigger cut to last until September 30, extending the original 90-day request.

By comparison, the All Blacks are tipped to take a 10 percent cut, Wales' players are taking a 25 percent reduction, while Fiji's have reportedly taken 40 percent. 

Castle's executive team have taken 30 percent, with about 100 RA employees stood down until June 30.

"I know the players are hurting as much as we are," Castle said. "They want to be out playing footy again and they're facing extreme uncertainty.

"They also recognise that they need to come to the party and I'm hopeful that, on Saturday, we can find a resolution that allows us to confront the challenging period the game is in.

"This is difficult times for everybody. We've stood down 75 percent of the RA workforce and that was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do in my career. 

"They're people who love the sport and are dedicated to it, but we had to make hard decisions early and a lot of them to make sure we had certainty over the next six months, that we had a plan in place that would see us through to the end of the year."

Castle is under immense pressure and her job is currently on the line, after reportedly rejecting a AU$20million-per-year offer from Foxtel for broadcast rights, about a third of the current deal.

RA announced a provisional loss of AU$9.4m at its annual meeting last week and is staring at a AU$120m revenue black hole this year, if there is no return to the field.

Wallabies great Phil Kearns loomed as a possible replacement, while former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons believed Castle was the victim of sexism.