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Thread: Castle under siege: 'Locked out' players fuming ahead of rugby's D-Day

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    Castle under siege: 'Locked out' players fuming ahead of rugby's D-Day

    Castle under siege: 'Locked out' players fuming ahead of rugby's D-Day

    Rugby Australia will outline only limited cost-cutting at its AGM on Monday amid news the organisation had not lodged its 2019 financial results

    By Georgina Robinson
    March 29, 2020 — 8.00pm


    Rugby Australia will defer player pay cuts until later this week after failing to hold any discussions with the players' union amid the worsening coronavirus global pandemic and major concerns about the code's solvency.

    RA chief executive Raelene Castle and chairman Paul McLean are expected to announce deep and widespread pay cuts and staff stand-downs at the organisation's annual general meeting on Monday, with Australia's four Super Rugby sides to follow suit.

    But there will be no clarity on the status and future of the 192 professional players across the country, after RA postponed a meeting with the Rugby Union Players' Association until Tuesday and refused to answer RUPA's numerous requests for information about the governing body's financial position.

    RUPA said it had been "locked out" of the process in a statement released late on Sunday.

    "Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association should be partners in this process to navigate their way together through this crisis," chief executive Justin Harrison said.

    "RUPA members and the game’s stakeholders are frustrated. There is a vacuum of information. While our colleagues in the other major football codes across Australia have been meeting with their
    governing bodies for weeks RA has refused to share any information about the future financial direction of the game.

    "Are the players about to be presented with a fait accompli – the future of the game decided without any consultation?"

    The stand-off also means uncertainty will linger over RA's capacity to survive the worldwide shutdown of professional and community sport. The organisation spends about $24 million on player salaries through the Super Rugby funding agreement, plus another $16 million a year on other "player payments and RUPA costs".

    It will be impossible for Castle and McLean to give any assurances as to the effectiveness of planned cost-cutting when $40 million - or 40 per cent - of the business's annual operating expenditure has still not been addressed.

    Player salaries are the largest components of RA's cost base. With them up in the air there, potentially for another week, there be little comfort in Castle's master plan.

    Adding further heat to Monday's AGM will be the news that RA has not lodged its 2019 financial results with the corporate regulator after failing to get sign-off from auditors KPMG.

    The news reverberated around the game on Sunday, with McLean telling Super Rugby chairs the organisation needed more time to attest to its solvency, given the unfolding circumstances.

    In any audited financial report there is a clause covering "events subsequent to reporting date". In RA's case, the 2018 clause read: "In the interval between the end of the financial year [Dec 31 2019] and the date of this report [April 2020), no item, transaction or event of a material and unusual event or nature has arisen ... to affect significantly the operations of the company, the results of those operations, or the state of affairs of the company in future financial years."

    This was clearly a clause that might have prevented the completion of KPMG's audit of RA's finances last year.

    A spokesman said unaudited financials would be presented at the AGM, but no report would be lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

    Nevertheless, RUPA and some of the Super Rugby chairs were incredulous that no financial information had been shared ahead of the meeting, particularly given the enormity of the problem facing the game.

    It also gave rise to speculation Castle and McLean were set to dial into a hostile virtual environment with RA's members and stakeholders.

    In addition to the delay on player salary cuts, there is no word yet on how much global governing body World Rugby will be able to lend a hand, if at all.

    World Rugby has formed a working group of the top national chief executives, the international players' union, International Rugby Players and its own Executive Committee, to look into a lending program for the major unions.

    With all the tier one nations apart from England and France considered to be in extremely vulnerable positions, any financial assistance from World Rugby is not likely to be substantial enough to be considered the decisive factor in RA's predicament.

    But every bit helps, particularly when government assistance in the form of a sports-wide assistance package appears to be months off, if one comes at all.

    With RA only able to cut its office, staff, administrative and marketing costs, it appears there will be no clear plan to articulate at Monday's meeting.

    Also on Sunday, Sydney University rugby and NSW Health confirmed the coronavirus outbreak traced back to the Australian Club Championship match on March 14 had been confined to two cases.

    "Today marks the 15th day after the [Championship], when players and supporters came in close contact with a member of our playing group, 24 hours prior to him becoming symptomatic with what was later confirmed to be COVID-19," the club said on Sunday.

    "SUFC wishes to advise our community that approximately 140 players, volunteers, supporters and staff were advised by NSW Health to self-quarantine, with only one person subsequently testing positive. We are pleased to announce both players are now at full health."

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...29-p54ezn.html

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    I know it's been linked in another thread, but full article useful for future reference

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Even without COVID-19, RA was financially screwed. This dreadful virus has just brought it to the brink much sooner, and perhaps gives them a better chance of getting outside help to fill the ever-widening black hole.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    Not even flex tape can fix that

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    Champion andrewM's Avatar
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    Love that they still haven't had their 2019 financial results signed off on. Funnily enough the VRU never released theirs either

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    9.4 million deficit predicted.

    Rugby Australia crisis after 2019 financial deficit of $9.4 million

    https://amp.news.com.au/sport/rugby/...b956d3a90dfd9d

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    Veteran SNOB's Avatar
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    Did Clyne step down or was he pushed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SNOB View Post
    Did Clyne step down or was he pushed?
    Pushed. It was clear in a few of the articles

    Only the Rugby.com.au article mentioned he stepped down. Everywhwre else said he was pushed by the board.

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Dragged kicking and screaming, SNOB!

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    RA "Think Tank"? Time to get the popcorn. This might be entertaining in these self-isolated days. . Along with Brett Harris having Andrew Forrest buying all Super Rugby franchises........


    "Think tank" to be established on Super Rugby future" - Raelene Castle
    https://www.rugby.com.au/news/2020/0...-tests-super-w



    Private equity partners have been the mythical saviours of Australian rugby ever since the Super Rugby clubs were opened to private investment over a decade ago. There have been reports that a British private equity firm has offered more than $100m in credit to assist the NRL and Australian rugby may be hoping to secure similar assistance.

    But if Rugby Australia wanted to attract private investment in Super Rugby, and maybe the Wallabies, it would probably need to lessen its financial controls over the franchises.

    Rumours are swirling around that mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, saviour of the axed Western Force, might be interested in buying all of Australia’s Super Rugby franchises. -
    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/20...nancial-crisis

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    Rumours are swirling around that mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, saviour of the axed Western Force, might be interested in buying all of Australia’s Super Rugby franchises. -

    Now they're dreaming

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    Rumours are swirling around that mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, saviour of the axed Western Force, might be interested in buying all of Australia’s Super Rugby franchises


    Well, they are only a dollar each...

    But in seriousness, coming out of this the Rebels would want to watch their back. Maybe even their front.

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    I think Andrew Forrest is probably a little bit more focused on keeping operations at FMG running during this time rather then what is happening with super rugby

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    Quote Originally Posted by volvo View Post

    Now they're dreaming
    He already has 6 GRR rugby teams to feed for 6 months. Let the Australian Super teams go belly up and then start GRR teams in NSW, QLD and ACT for next year. Dont bother about about Victoria. Their players can be absorbed by the others.

    So GRR has 9 teams next year, plus maybe Japan.

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    I don't know volvo/JSJ, it would make a certain sense. If he bought them all, I would expect he would want to control their trademarks/marketing and need to be in control of their involvement in SR/broadcast contract. Given they are all loss making entities the cost and license fees shouldn't be much, and I would expect he'd also need a firm "no competition" clause so they didn't then go off setting up a parallel competition.

    Get all those and it might be worth it...

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