NRL board cancels award night ceremony
Rugby League's annual awards ceremony, the Dally M Awards, will not take place this year as a result of the intransigence of the News Ltd-controlled National Rugby League (NRL) in negotiations with the players' union. The demands of the Rugby League Professionals' Association (the players' union) include: * the right to a minimum wage for all players under contract. The NRL clubs want to decide who gets a minimum wage at the end of the season; * protection of entitlements where a club folds. Players from Auckland, North Sydney, South Queensland and the Northern Eagles are still owed money; * players' rights to use their intellectual property — subject to safeguards for NRL sponsors; * indemnity of contracts against clubs going broke; * a death clause. The NRL rejected the players' proposal that it should pay out two year's wages if a player is killed on the job; * a choice of superannuation funds. Rugby League players had voted to boycott the Dally M Awards if the NRL failed to make meaningful progress towards a collective agreement to provide security for all players by the end of last week. Only the wage claim was agreed to by the NRL. The Rugby League Professionals' Association President Tony Butterfield said, "We needed reasonable, meaningful progress on a number of issues. To go back to the players and say, "we have progressed on one [issue], we'll accept that': that was never going to be the case". Not taken lightly Members of the RLPA said the boycott decision had not been taken lightly, but that a strong message had to be sent to the businessmen running the game that the players were serious about achieving basic rights. "The Dally M Awards celebrate the game's history and are a great night out for players and their partners," said Tony Butterfield. "By forgoing this night, players are sending the public a message that if we don't protect young players, there won't be a game to celebrate into the future. "We have made a conscious decision to protect [the players] in a way that minimises the impact on fans, but people need to be aware that we are serious about securing an agreement that protects all players. "The elite players have nothing personally to gain from this agreement. We are taking this stand on behalf of the young players entering the code and for the future of the game". The RLPA gave the NRL a deadline of last Friday to make progress on their offer, but the NRL instead, announced the cancellation of the award night.