As Rugby Australia desperately attempts to avoid financial ruin amid the coronavirus epidemic, CEO Raelene Castle has refused to rule out the possibility of collecting a mammoth bonus for her 2019 performance.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Castle was pencilled in for a $114,000 bonus as a result of RA's self-awarded 72 per cent performance scorecard last year.
Although Castle has not yet collected the bonus as the 2019 financials remain unaudited, and told the Sydney Morning Herald she would not collect it at this stage, when questioned further she refused to rule out collecting the bonus in the future.
"There was a bonus calculated on Raelene's performance against her KPIs for 2019, however she has not received any payment of this bonus," an RA spokesman said.
There are lingering concerns about RA's bemusing 72 per cent performance rating for 2019 – at last week's Annual General Meeting, the organisation announced a $9.4 million loss during the 12-month period.
The Australian Super Rugby teams – except the Brumbies – endured a horrific 2019 campaign, while the Wallabies suffered an embarrassing quarter-final exit at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Australia slipped to their lowest position on the World Rugby rankings last year, at one stage dropping below Japan.
RA reportedly rejected a $20 million-per-year offer from Foxtel for broadcast rights, the proposal being $37 million a year less than the current deal.
Combined with dwindling attendance numbers and the controversial Israel Folau saga, the 72 per cent rating undeniably raised a few eyebrows among the rugby community.
The cash-strapped governing body was forced to last week stand down 75 per cent of their workforce. If no professional rugby union takes place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RA could lose up to $120 million in revenue.
Castle revealed last week she would concede a 50 per cent cap cut to assist financial RA's financial recuperation during the coronavirus shutdown.
However, Castle said on Friday she would slice another 15 per cent off her salary, matching the 65 per cent pay cut the game's professional players were asked to shoulder until the end of September, insisting "it's the right thing to do".
"I have made that decision and recommended it to the board because we're facing really tough times and have to make these calls," Castle told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Like everyone through the game that's had to stand down and make difficult decisions, I'm no different."
Negotiations between RA and the Rugby Union Players Association have been ongoing for several weeks, the two parties yet to reach a deal. Discussions were postponed on Thursday after a RA director fell ill.
Castle has been under attack by former Wallabies in the Australian media, and All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan came to her defence earlier this week.
Speaking on Sky Sport's The Breakdown, which was also broadcast live on the Herald, Kirwan argued that Wallabies greats such as Rod Kafer and Nick Farr-Jones should instead be working constructively with Rugby Australia to try and find solutions to their current crisis, rather than publicly slamming Castle.
"They should be working together. As ex-All Blacks, we very rarely go outside with our criticism before we've said it inside," Kirwan said on The Breakdown.
"Some of these famous ex-Wallabies maybe need to knock on her door or have a Zoom, and just say 'these are my concerns and these are my solutions'."