Equal Pay for Rugby 7s Players? What More do these Women have to do?
By Sam Squiers
February’s Sydney 7s Tournament will be the first time the Australian Women’s Rugby 7s side will play on home soil since their ground breaking gold medal win at the Rio Olympics.
Recapping the moment still sends goosebumps down your spine.
It was the moment that put women’s rugby on the Australian sporting map and in the public’s hearts.
Back home little girls went to school with braids and plaits in their hair (like Charlotte Caslick), rugby clubs fielded enquiries about women’s competitions and the media couldn’t get enough of the new golden girls.
The players were invited to functions, award nights, requested for speaking engagements and were even recognised on the street.
Life was changing for the girls.
The only thing that wasn’t changing was their pay.
And the perfect opportunity is here for ARU CEO Bill Pulver to make the most defining move of his career.
And the perfect opportunity is here for ARU CEO Bill Pulver to make the most defining move of his career. Equal pay.
Ask the man on the street about Rugby 7s in this country and they will more likely than not recount the story of the Women winning gold at the Rio Olympics. They’re also likely to tell you who the players are with Charlotte Caslick the most popular and recognised in the team.
Ask that same person about the men’s Rugby 7s team and they’d be struggling to tell you how the boys did at Rio (they were beaten in the quarters) or who any of the players are.
Yet the men’s rugby 7s team is paid more than the women’s.
The disparity is around $20,000 with the average wage of the women $55,000 and the men $75,000 (which includes a base salary, AIS contributions and World Series win bonuses, of which the women have had more success there than their male counterparts).
It’s reported that the women’s base salary sits between $20 – 40,000, while the men’s sits at $50,000.
How much someone is paid is usually based on how well they do the job required of them.
The women are ranked higher, are the Olympic Champions and the World Series Champions, while the men finished the World Series out of the medals in fourth. You only have to look at the advertising campaign for the upcoming Sydney7s tournament to see how the ARU are capitalising on this success with Caslick front and centre of all the billboards and commercials.
The 2017 HSBC Sydney 7s will feature both the best Men’s AND Women’s Sevens players in the world! pic.twitter.com/oCnwC2lwDe
— Sydney 7s (@Sydney7s) August 26, 2016
The only argument for the men’s increased pay is that they play more tournaments. The women though play the maximum number available to them, they can’t create the tournaments themselves, in terms of doing the job required of them by World Rugby, they simply can’t do it any better than they already are. Despite the number of tournaments, the women are having the greater impact in Australia.
The collective bargaining agreement currently in place was established before the women’s success. Pulver has previously said he is committed to equal pay “over the next couple of years”, but with the ARU and Rugby Union Players Association due to continue negotiations, now is the time for the right change to occur.
The ARU has done a great job in supporting and professionalising the women’s rugby 7s team from the start, the girls were given a salary with the squad living and training together at Narrabeen, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
But the women’s game needs to take the next step and that’s equal pay. Rugby has the opportunity here to prove itself as a trailblazing sport, break the shackles of its cautious and conservative reputation.
If not, why not Mr Pulver?
As World Champions, Olympic Champions, role models and a publicity dream, what more do these women have to do?