'I've made it pretty clear': Rennie sends strong message to Rugby Australia
SPOTLIGHT: Wallabies coach Dave Rennie Monday urged Rugby Australia not to walk away from Super Rugby Pacific and launch its own domestic competition in 2024.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has reportedly told his New Zealand counterpart Stewart Mitchell their partnership could end over an imbalance in broadcast revenue.
“We’ll honour our commitments in ’23 but we need to see what’s best for rugby in Australia leading up to the Rugby World Cup in Australia in ’27,” McLennan told Fox Sports last week. “All bets are off from ’24 onwards with NZ.”
Rennie admitted he was caught off guard by the development and said it was crucial that Australian teams continued to play their New Zealand counterparts.
“I’ve made it pretty clear in the past I think it’s good for both countries that we play trans-Tasman footie,” he said on a zoom call.
“I think the competition has been excellent this year and our sides have certainly been more competitive. It’s good for them, it’s good for us and I’d like to see that continue.”
Previously, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand pooled their respective broadcast profits for Super Rugby and split it three ways, which was extended to Argentina when they joined the competition.
But since the Covid pandemic when South Africa and Argentina were cast aside, there has been no such arrangement.
According to reports, New Zealand Rugby currently earns Aus$91 million (US$63 million) a year from broadcast rights, while Australia only gets Aus$29 million with the partnership agreement expiring in 2023.
“Some board members have strong opinions that a domestic only competition like the [Australian Rules] AFL and [Rugby League’s] NRL would generate more money for the game and that is fair comment,” McLennan said.
Rennie, a New Zealander, said he understood McLennan’s commercial stance, but the only way for Australian players to keep improving was by facing the best in the world.
“I’m not going to crystal ball gaze this situation. But what I think, and I think a lot of New Zealand clubs will think too, is that us playing trans-Tasman games is good for us,” he said.
“I’m supportive of the competition continuing, but it’s not my call.”
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 18, 2022