MELBOURNE (Reuters) - All Melbourne Rebels players landed in Canberra on Friday ahead of their opening match in “Super Rugby AU” next week, easing concerns some might skip the flight amid reports of a brewing pay revolt.
Australian media reported this week that players were ready to boycott the domestic competition after governing body Rugby Australia (RA) pushed them to agree to a 40% pay-cut in the final quarter of the year.
Players have already agreed to an average 60% pay-cut up to the end of September to help shore up the game’s finances, which were hit hard by the suspension of the wider Super Rugby tournament in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Super Rugby AU starts on July 3 and features Australia’s four Super Rugby teams plus Perth-based Western Force.
A Rebels spokesman confirmed the entire playing group had arrived in Canberra to prepare for their match against the ACT Brumbies on July 4.
“Any suggestion they weren’t (going to board) was wrong,” he told Reuters.
The Rugby Union Players’ Association declined to comment on the status of pay talks with RA.
Melbourne captain Dane Haylett-Petty said he expected a pay deal would be struck before Super Rugby AU kicks off.
“I know those pay negotiations are still going on,” the Wallabies outside back told RA website Rugby.com.au.
“I’m looking forward to those negotiations being wrapped up very soon and getting on with footy.
“Whenever there’s a negotiation there’s always tension about trying to get the best deal, so it’s a very normal scenario to take place.”
The Rebels flew up to Canberra earlier than planned following a spike of COVID-19 infections in Melbourne. They have yet to decide where they will be based after the Brumbies game.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford