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NRL Label RLPA Actions As
The National Rugby League on Monday accused the players union of being "malicious" and called for a meeting with player representatives of the 15 clubs.
NRL chief executive David Gallop and club representatives met with Rugby League Professionals Association (RLPA) president Tony Butterfield Monday morning - the first meeting between the parties since the cancellation of the Dally M awards earlier this month.
But afterward the two parties seemed further apart than ever.
The NRL said recent events had shown the RLPA had failed to keep the players informed and the league had been asked to deal with claims that were not genuine.
Gallop also slammed the RLPA over an e-mail from Butterfield in which the players' union president reportedly referred to some members of the media as "drop kicks" and "media rats".
"It is clear that not only has the RLPA executive not taken the time to explain the game's position on complex salary cap issues such as existing sponsorship provisions but that the executive has not taken the time to understand those issues itself," Gallop said in a statement.
"We now have evidence that the association is being malicious in its reporting of these negotiations to its members and that it is attempting to undermine the reputation of our key corporate partners, including News Limited, Channel 9 and 2GB who help fund the player's contracts."
The NRL and the RLPA have tentatively scheduled talks with the players for October 23 and 24.
The RLPA and NRL, who are working towards the game's first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), have been at loggerheads since the players threatened to boycott the Dally M awards earlier this month.
The NRL subsequently cancelled the awards after the parties failed to reach agreement on six key points.
The NRL today claimed some of those issues had since been dismissed by Butterfield as side matters that were not crucial to the player demands.
Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr, who attended today's meeting along with club chief executives Denis Fitzgerald (Parramatta), Shane Richardson (Penrith) and Steve Noyce (Wests Tigers), said he doubted players were being fully informed.
"We have strong reason to believe the majority of players are not fully aware of these claims," Carr said.
"They certainly wouldn't support the impact such payments would have on the funding of junior programs."
The statement said the NRL's concerns had been endorsed by representatives of the NRL Board and NRL Partnership.
"We know the players support a strong player representative body and we share that support," he said.
"The game's frustration with the RLPA executive should not be confused with the need to have an association, but such a body has to be represented in an appropriate manner.
"The news of senior RLPA officials tossing up ambit claims and insults behind the scenes is hardly a way to advance the players' cause.
"We want the CBA sorted out as soon as possible and the best way of doing that will be to sit down with all clubs and a truly representative group of players.
"The bitter irony of the RLPA's correspondence to players is that it actually conceded the Dally M cancellation came at a time when the negotiations were making their greatest progress in years.
"I'm still not sure the RLPA recognises the significance of that decision for the game or the fans."