Aussies still fancy Trans-Tasman comp
A 2020 Bledisloe Cup series and Trans-Tasman Super Rugby alternative have been floated, but Rugby Australia isn’t rushing into a competitive return.
Australia’s professional players agreed to an average 60 per cent salary cut and called for a complete review of the code in this country after reaching a resolution on an interim pay deal on Monday.
Admitting that longer-term financial pain was likely, RA chief executive Raelene Castle is now scheming the game’s return to the field and the finalisation of a stalled broadcast deal due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But indications are that it will be a more cautious approach than the NRL’s ambitious May 28 return target.
“All the indications we are getting from Australia and New Zealand governments are that they’re very proud of the fact that they’ve managed to control this (virus) very well and limited the damage and loss of life and they’re not willing to open that up quickly to risk that they go backwards again,'” Castle said.
A revamped five-team domestic competition set to be pushed back again from it’s initially proposed May 1 start while the Wallabies’ scheduled July internationals against Ireland and Fiji appear unlikely to go ahead.
But Castle said on Tuesday Tests and Super Rugby games between Australian and New Zealand could be an option given the containment of the virus in both countries.
“That’s one of the models that we’ve worked through at the moment and we remain in consistent discussion with New Zealand because obviously it makes a lot of sense,” she said.
In accepting the hefty pay cuts on Monday, the Rugby Union Players’ Association called for “root and branch” reform of the code.
Castle indicated she was open to it, insisting the current Super Rugby format involving tours to South Africa and Argentina wasn’t set in stone.
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That’s despite both New Zealand and South Africa signing broadcast deals based on that premise and Rugby Australia’s broadcast future remaining up in the air.
“Governments might not let us deliver it; [unless they] open borders and allow teams to come in we might not have any choice (but) to review … what we can deliver into 2021,” she said.
“I can’t sit here today and tell you what it’s going to look like at the back end of 2020 or into ’21.”
She said the internal cost cuts and likely financial support of World Rugby would see RA through until the end of September.
But Castle knows even a seamless resumption by then won’t allow them to wriggle off the hook.
“I don’t think there’s a player or a player agent that works in rugby across the world that thinks that all contracts, particularly long-term contracts, will necessarily be delivered at the values they were delivered previously,” she said.
“This is a conversation that’s going to affect players at every sporting competition and RA will be no different.”