Gender pay gap debate continues to rage following “joke” NRLW salary cap announcement

It was announced yesterday what the salary cap would be for the upcoming 2023 seasons for both the NRL and NRLW, the men’s and women’s professional competitions in Australia, and the disparity in money sparked huge debate, something that’s continued with another prominent commentator weighing in.

Following a delay and hold-up regarding negotiations between the RLPA which is the players association and the NRL bosses the salary cap was finally confirmed for 2023 and both men and women’s competition are set to see an increase to record highs.

For the men the NRL sees a 25% increase to $12.1 million whilst the women’s competition, which is expanding to 10 teams from four, will see a 153% increase to $884,000.

Whilst the NRLW sees a major percentage hike it pales in comparison to the NRL figures, which is understandable given that the NRL on the whole is a business and the most profitable product is the men’s game.

On the deal Australian Rugby League Chairman, Peter V’landys, said: “They’ve had the biggest increase of anyone. Don’t forget there are 10 teams, so we’ve invested heavily in the women’s game and rightly so.

“This is a big announcement for the women, and I think over a period of time we’re going to be investing around $117m into the women’s game, which is substantial.”

It was reported yesterday that former player Katie Brown challenged the decision, labelling it as “a joke” which sparked backlash on social media, however sports commentator Lavender Baj has now spoken out comparing the finances from a perspective of Newcastle Knights.

“For context: Kalyn Ponga did not win a premiership for the Knights, but makes more than the entire NRLW team that brought home the trophy for the first time in two decades.

“Also before anyone comes for me I am not s****ing on the huge increase for the womens game, which is undoubtedly a great thing. Just adding perspective because the Knights girls are the only team worth the club’s investment to be quite honest.”

In just their second season the Knights NRLW side won the Grand Final with their squad featuring huge names such as World Cup stars Caitlan Johnston and Rain Stephens-Daly, something the men’s side haven’t done since 2001.

Since then the men’s team have recorded three consecutive wooden spoons in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and finished just 14th last season.

It seems evident that this debate over the financing of women’s rugby league won’t go away, which is positive in the sense that it’s even a conversation relative to twenty years ago when it didn’t exist, but the fact of the matter is that women’s rugby league is being funded to the best level it ever has and will continue to be funded following it’s success at the World Cup.

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