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Coronavirus: Rugby Australia and Reds release trio from contracts

Omnisport logo Omnisport 23/05/2020 Sacha Pisani
a man holding a ball: IzackRodda and two of his team-mates have been released by RA and the Reds © Getty Images IzackRodda and two of his team-mates have been released by RA and the Reds

Rugby Australia (RA) and the Reds have released Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings from their contracts following a pay dispute.

The Reds trio were stood down by the Super Rugby team on Monday after refusing a pay reduction and their nomination for the Australian federal government's JobKeeper subsidy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It came after RA and the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) reached an agreement on a new pay deal last month, with Super Rugby on hiatus due to COVID-19.

Read more: Six Nations could be played later in year (The Guardian)

On Friday, the trio's management announced they would seek contract termination, but the players – including 25-time Australia international Rodda – were released on Saturday.

Interim RA chief executive Rob Clarke told media: "We've formed the view that they've made their decision and if they wish to go overseas, then that's their decision. There's no avenue open to them in Australia at this time.

"We all have to face the consequences of our decisions in life - I'm not going to speak on behalf of those players, they can speak themselves.

"My job is to protect the game and Jonno's [director of rugby Scott Johnson] job is to protect the game and to build a foundation for the future and that's what all our energy right this moment is going towards."

Clarke added: "We possibly could have [taken legal action], but on balance we thought this was the most prudent course of action as to release these players given their stated intentions, and we believe taking everything into account, that was the appropriate course of action.

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"Going to court is always the last resort and it's a brutal ending to any conflict, so you would always like to mediate and conciliate along the way to get an outcome that suits both parties, in case we haven't been able to. We're very disappointed because those players were part of how we saw the future, but they have they rights and they're entitled to do what they've done."

Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) CEO David Hanham said: "A decision has been made today. Our focus and attention is on the players, staff and rugby community who have committed to our program and our team."

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Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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