The women’s game is still catching up with the men in terms of pay parity, though one of its pioneering players hopes that will change.
“The girls need to be endorsed,” Australia’s former World Cup-winning captain Cheryl McAfee (nee Soon) told CNN’s World Rugby show.
“I think they are a very marketable product. A lot of those girls are living off very little, the bottom tier girls are getting $30,000 a year — you can’t live off that.
“They get out of bed every day with bumps and bruises, but they grind it every day and they work really hard and they deserve more money.”
In 2009, the year she won the inaugural Sevens World Cup, McAfee was part of a lobbying group which persuaded the International Olympic Council to include rugby’s shortened format at Rio 2016 — the sport’s previous appearance was in 1924.
“We screamed, we celebrated,” she told CNN in 2014. “It was just the most exhilarating feeling and I can’t just describe it.”
That feeling of elation was repeated this year when Australia ended New Zealand’s recent dominance of women’s sevens by winning the 2015-16 world series title and then claimed gold in Rio, beating its rival in the final.
The average salary in the Australian women’s squad is reportedly around $41,000 — which includes a base wage as well as tax-free contributions from the Australian Sports Commission and world series win bonuses, which are also tax free. This was further boosted by $15,000 for winning Olympic gold.