RA look for government bailout
NEWS: While others fear salary cuts and job losses, Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle is confident the organisation will survive the financial strains despite asking for a government bailout.
Rugby Australia already has major financial concerns following reports that Fox Sports ended their 25-year relationship with the code after Rugby Australia rejected their offer for the rights package for the 2021 to 2025 time frame.
Rugby Australia was scheduled to field offers this week for the next five-year broadcast rights cycle.
However, according to Rugbycom.au, the organisation has paused its broadcast negotiation process.
Australia is the only SANZAAR member union yet to finalise a new broadcast arrangement, but Castle remains optimistic as she confirmed RA had positive conversations with potential bidders for the new rights broadcast right deal.
“This decision [to paused negotiations] was made after feedback from our stakeholders involved in the process and will allow them to concentrate on the important issues they are own facing within their own businesses,” Castle said.
She reiterated that RA supported the government’s decisions on how to contain the coronavirus as the health and wellbeing of Australians must come first, and revealed ‘extreme pressure on Rugby Australia’s finances,’
“The impact of government decisions to contain the coronavirus has seen rugby in Australia impacted in ways that we could never have imagined,” she said.
“We support these decisions as the health and wellbeings of Australians must come first.
“However any ongoing restrictions will put extreme pressure on Rugby Australia’s finances.
“We are obviously not the only sport in the country facing these challenges in the current environment.
“As a sport we have opened communication with the government to flag these significant concerns across all levels of our game.”
*Article continues below…
Meanwhile, Castle said there were ongoing discussions with SANZAAR, Rugby Australia and the Super Ruby teams about a number of competition models to be played in Super Rugby’s suspension.
Super Rugby is set to be suspended for a minimum of two weeks and it appears increasingly likely that when teams do return to playing rugby, it will be in some form of domestic competition.
Castle said there wasn’t a firm date for the competition to resume but expected do be able to shed some light on an alternative format in “coming days”.
“We haven’t got to a final date yet [on when competition would resume],” she said.
“That’s what all the SANZAAR nations are working together with their competition managers to see if we can find a competition that makes sense, that links into the games that have already been played, potentially gives us an outcome that allows to still play a finals series. We’re working cross-country from a SANZAAR perspective and also in consultation with our broadcasters.
“The travel restrictions mean that cross-border competition doesn’t seem realistic so domestic obviously leads the conversation.
“That’s all the work we’re doing and we expect we’d be able to communicate on that in the coming days.”
“We have taken the decision to suspend our media rights process while we deal with this unprecedented situation,” he said.
“This decision was made after feedback from our stakeholders involved in the process and will allow them to concentrate on the important issues that they are all facing within their own businesses.”
*Article continues below…
In other news, the Sydney Mornings Herald reported that more would be known on Wednesday regarding the test results of two Australian sevens players who have been tested for COVID-19.
RA headquarters in Moore Park were shut down on Monday and Tuesday to be cleaned, with staff told to stay at home.
Sources: Sydney Morning Herald & Rugbycomau
In other news: