Reds reveal their stance on RA's centralisation bid
NEWS: The Queensland Reds have backed Rugby Australia’s (RA) centralisation bid, provided the alignment doesn’t stretch to the Super Rugby club’s commercial arm.
The Wallabies’ World Cup flop has prompted a top-to-bottom review of the national program and shone a spotlight on RA’s bid to align high-performance programs across the clubs.
On Wednesday, Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) chairman Brett Clark and chief executive David Hanham co-authored a letter to members outlining the club’s position on the reforms.
“While the QRU is very supportive of high-performance alignment, it will not agree to any proposal on centralising commercial or corporate functions,” they wrote.
“The very strength of our state unions is the expertise they bring in their own markets.
“We are open to work on commercial initiatives together but will always retain our independence for the benefit of Queensland rugby, its members and stakeholders.
“It should also provide a clear view of what is needed in a leadership and governance framework to ensure we put the right people, in the right roles, in the right system,” they said.
Clark and Hanham said the recruitment of former rugby league winger Les Kiss as new Reds coach, after nearly two decades coaching rugby overseas, was executed in partnership with RA.
“We want to play our part to improve rugby in this country,” the statement said.
“We have seen the benefits of centralising high-performance outcomes with teams like Ireland.”
The QRU have delivered four successive profitable years to sit comfortably as the country’s most financially sound Super Rugby outfit.
Other clubs have felt the loss of an annual $1.7 million RA injection that was withdrawn during COVID-19 – money the Reds say the governing body are willing to discuss reinstating.
RA is in talks with clubs after announcing an in-principle centralisation agreement in August.
The NSW Waratahs are set to hand their commercial and high-performance keys to the governing body, while the Melbourne Rebels are expected to follow suit.
The Brumbies are in a similar boat to the Reds while it’s understood the privately owned Western Force are broadly supportive of the reforms.
Former Wallabies captain Stephen Moore has called for a drastic overhaul of the domestic product, despite RA stating their opposition with lucrative broadcast dollars at stake.
Moore felt money should be redirected from Melbourne and Perth’s Super Rugby teams into the club scene in those cities, for them to field strong sides in a lower-tier competition, with more resources put into resurrecting country rugby in NSW and Queensland.
“The stakeholders of the game need to decide if the people running the game are going to be able to get us out the other end,” he told AAP of the centralisation bid.
“If that’s ‘yes’, then great. But if it’s ‘no’, we need to know now, because this is the time for the change.
“It’s been in the last couple of years that we’ve really slipped down into bordering on being a second-tier side, so it’s been a rapid decline.”