Union Cap Calls

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First Grader
By Wayne Smith
April 27, 2006

PLAYER pressure could force the Rugby Union Players Association to confront the issue of a salary cap following Matt Giteau's massive deal to join the Western Force.

RUPA chief executive Tony Dempsey has argued that the imposition of a salary cap would force Australian players to head offshore in search of more lucrative contracts in Britain, Europe and Japan.

But there were indications yesterday that his members were starting to view tighter restrictions as the only way to keep player salaries at a sustainable level.

"It's something that the RUPA board should discuss in the very near future," veteran Reds flanker David Croft said yesterday.

"If more and more players are going to be putting out their hands for third-party payments, the money is going to dry up."

Croft is a RUPA board member but stressed he was not speaking as a spokesman for the organisation.

"There has to be something put in place, some middle ground found. Otherwise two sides, the Waratahs and Western Force, are going to have an unfair advantage.

"It's going to be like Chelsea and Manchester United. The Waratahs will have 30 top players on their books. That will mean there will be some great players sitting on their bench but who cares when they're being paid so much money?

"The Australian Rugby Union had to stand up and do something. Otherwise the Queensland Reds and Brumbies are going to be hurt badly and that's not a good state of affairs for Australian rugby. This is getting a bit out of control."

Ben Tune, the try-scoring hero of the 1999 World Cup final, said it was "just common sense" that the Reds and Brumbies did not have the corporate backing to be able to match NSW and WA in an uncontrolled market.
"Obviously I don't want to see the Queensland Reds driven to the wall," said Tune, who with 82 Super rugby games to his credit is on target to become the first Reds player to reach a century in the competition.

Tune claimed it was ironic that the Waratahs now find themselves in such a dominant financial position. "NSW Rugby twice went broke and had to be bailed out by the ARU," he said.

"I can see direct parallels to what happened in Super League. A select few players are going to be paid way over the odds and there will be a big spike in wages but then the provinces will come to their senses and salaries could drop dramatically.

"I don't begrudge anyone getting whatever someone is silly enough to pay him, but this (the Giteau precedent) is going to be very good for a select 5 percent of players and bad for the other 95 percent. This is not sustainable. The players collectively need to get together and address this issue."

The QRU board resolved unanimously at its meeting yesterday to push the ARU to restore some sanity to the contracting system, beginning at today's annual general meeting.

"We are going to Sydney with the expectation that the ARU will show some leadership on this issue," QRU chairman Peter Lewis said.

"The first thing it has to do is stop the rot and enforce the current protocols (which stipulate that the four professional teams play no direct role in securing third-party payments for players).

"I think they're in a position, given that they hold all the money, to enforce a much stronger system of compliance. And not just talk but do it as a matter of urgency."

Lewis insisted he was not locked into a salary cap as a solution and was prepared to listen to alternative proposals.

"But if we can't find a better idea, we have two salary cap models (the AFL and NRL) that have worked successfully for a long time."

Lewis has signalled just how hard he intends to fight this battle by enlisting corporate hard man Terry Jackman as one of Queensland's two ARU board members.

Certainly, ARU chief executive Gary Flower's handling of the contracting controversy will be closely monitored, although it might well be the critical gathering will not be today's board meeting but the May 8 assembly of the four Super 14 chief executives and Flowers.

When it was put to one of the chief executives yesterday that there could be blood on the meeting room carpet on May 8, he only half-jokingly replied: "We might not even get that far. There could be blood on the reception room floor outside."


who gives a flying F*&^

let them pay 1.5 million for a player, or 700k for Gaznier, watch them all go broke as everyone will want the same kind of % increases that Giteau gets

would he make the roos ????? with the centres about now i doubt it

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