A flexible and transitional salary cap for 2018 and entry-level pay equality for Super Rugby and all sevens players are among the major outcomes of a new rugby union collective bargaining agreement.
After previously engaging in an protracted and fractious process over the culling of a Super Rugby team last year, Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players' Association announced on Wednesday they had reached agreement on a new CBA through until the end of 2020.
The salary cap of $5 million will be swelled to $5.5 million for 2019 and 2020, but there is no set figure for 2018.
That may cause some angst in the rugby community and among other Super Rugby franchises outside of the Melbourne Rebels, who have signed up many of the star players from the axed Western Force.
"There's clearly flexibility specifically around 2018 as we accommodate the needs of all contracted Super Rugby players from the Western Force," outgoing RA CEO Bill Pulver said.
"That in our view is a very sensible process... beyond that, $5.5 million will be very much a fixed number.
"We want to get back to the right level of discipline to make sure the game has financial sustainability in mind."
The players will continue to receive 29 per cent of revenue generated by the professional game.
Source: 1 NEWS
Asked if the lack of a firm salary cap for 2018 might cause friction in some quarters, RUPA CEO Ross Xenos said there was a unique set of circumstances.
"(This year) is really being treated as a transitional year to allow the dust to settle on the players that have relocated out of Perth, and other teams to start to plan competitive rosters into the future," Xenos told AAP.
The total amount of contracted players among the franchises will go down from 175 to 160.
However, each of the four remaining teams will be able to sign up to 40, players, whereas in 2017 they were restricted to 30 core squad members and five development players.
Pulver, who will be replaced as CEO by Raelene Castle next week, was confident the CBA would help improve Australian Super Rugby results and stimulate more spectator interest after a dismal 2017 campaign.
"When you look at the player lists we have in the four remaining teams, they are very strong," Pulver said.
"We are very confident of much better results this year and in the large part if the teams perform well on the paddock, the crowds will come and watch."
The new CBA includes a number of firsts.
There will be entry-level full-time minimum salaries for Super Rugby and male and female sevens players.
The Wallaroos will receive Test match payments for the first time from 2018.
It's also the first Australian rugby CBA to take in the Wallabies, Wallaroos, all Super Rugby players and both Australian sevens squads.
"The total number of players covered by the CBA is at an historic high," Xenos said.
The financial details of the recently announced women's Super W competition will be finalised in the coming months.