Australian players could boycott 2017 Rugby League World Cup

By @saihoops on
NRL Ladder 2016 Cowboys’ Thurston replaced; to miss games with injury
Australia's Johnathan Thurston (L) kicks past New Zealand's Ruben Wiki during the opening match of the Tri Nations rugby league tournament in Auckland, New Zealand October 14, 2006. Reuters/Nigel Marple

Some of Australia's top players are contemplating a boycott of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, which gets underway shortly after the National Rugby League (NRL) season. The players are reportedly unhappy with their ongoing pay dispute with the NRL. 

According to The Daily Telegraph, it's not just the Aussies who are willing to strike. Players from all countries who are members of the Rugby League Players Association (RLP) are prepared to boycott the 15th edition of the Rugby League World Cup to get a fair share of the sport's $2 billion television contract. 

The report adds that the "NRL and the RLPA are AU$170 million apart over five years on the players’ salaries." The Daily Telegraph also got access to an e-mail from the RLPA to the 16 NRL clubs. “Many of the representations (made by the NRL) are quite simply untrue and incorrect.

“We find such conduct to be disrespectful and intentionally designed to undermine the RLPA and the bargaining process. It is apparent that the author has purposely sought to be inflammatory in an effort to portray the RLPA and Players as unreasonable," reads the scathing e-mail from the players union.

Test captain Cameron Smith leads the boycott

Earlier on Monday, Australia’s Test captain Cameron Smith slammed the league's front office for their handling of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations. During the meeting, several prominent RLPA members reportedly discussed strong action during the World Cup. Such action would not only derail the tournament, but would cost Channel 7 huge sums of sponsorship money. 

“You give the clubs the 130 per cent funding which is AU$10 million salary cap plus AU$3 million extra funding to help out the clubs, the game’s left with AU$192 million to run the game. Surely that’s enough. If you can’t run a game with AU$192 million, that’s fairly concerning. Is there the wrong administration in or are they spending money badly," said Smith while addressing reporters on Monday.

The 2017 Rugby League World Cup will be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between October 26 and December 2 2017.