Trans-Tasman spat gets 'ugly'
REACTION: The public spat between New Zealand and Australia over the possibility of a Trans-Tasman competition next year took a nasty turn.
Accusations of ‘underhanded tactics’ and ‘backstabbing’ were flying back-and-forth as the two countries jostle for power in a new joint venture.
Waratahs Chairman Roger Davis fired the first shots when he accused New Zealand Rugby of “underhanded tactics” and trying to “drive a wedge” between Rugby Australia and the country’s franchises.
Crusaders Chief Executive Officer Colin Mansbridge fired back by suggesting the Aussies should “calm down”.
NZ Rugby is planning to launch a new competition next year that will feature five New Zealand teams, a Pacific Islands selection and two to four Australian teams.
However, the suggestion was met with a strong backlash from across the ditch.
Now Rugby Australia has been ‘advised’ to launch its own competition.
“They’re trying to split us from Rugby Australia,” Davis said in comments published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s appalling really,” the Waratahs boss said.
“We’re not going to split or destroy the code by dumping two or three sides. It would do irreparable damage to the game here.”
Davis added that RA should flip the script and set up its own competition.
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“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said.
“NZ Rugby went straight to the clubs and bypassed Rugby Australia. We can do exactly the same,” he added.
This prompted Mansbridge to call for a truce and “constructive dialogue” behind closed doors – not a public spat in the media.
“It is a time for cool heads, a time for working hard on connections, data, analysis and being very thoughtful and considered,” Mansbridge said.
“Best done directly would be my recommendation.”
Davis suggested the Kiwis simply can’t afford to go it alone.
“You need 12 [teams] to make any money and they want to play against us,” Davis said.
“We need New Zealand as much as New Zealand needs us. We’ve got 25 million people in our country, they’ve got five. Economics runs this game and says they would partner with us.”
Sources: Stuff, Sydney Morning Herald & Reuters