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Thread: RA to launch interim comp, Western Force to be included

  1. #166
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    Western Force holding the strongest cards in Australian rugby

    Wayne Smith


    It’s hard to ignore the reality that the franchise holding all the power in Australian rugby right now is the Western Force. Or, to be more precise, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

    Rugby Australia could have proceeded with just four teams had Forrest not agreed to the Force participating in its domestic Super Rugby AU

    In McLennan’s position, it was the smart political move but it was also the correct and very necessary thing. For all their attempts to keep WA at least partially inside the tent, RA had never really admitted the grievous damage they had inflicted on the people of Perth and Western Australia.

    Forrest is absolutely correct when he says he supports rugby because of its community-building capacity. But the corollary also holds true. Take a rugby club away — indeed, punish it for no other reason than the fact it was particularly vulnerable at a precise moment in time — and it rips the heart out of a community. So full credit to McLennan. Yes, it was easier for him because he had played no role in the events of 2017, but he recognised that a terrible wrong had been committed and he set out to at least partially rectify it.

    Even so, Forrest didn’t make it easy for him or RA, warning that unless there was considerable change, particularly in its governance model, he could see no way that he could continue his investment beyond 2020. So the ball is now entirely in RA’s court.

    Except that it’s not …

    Everything is now dependent on whether interim RA chief executive Rob Clarke is able to get a signature out of Patrick Delany at Fox Sports in the coming days. If he does, the wolf will have been pushed back from the door, just for a moment. If he doesn’t, then Jessica Halloran’s story that appeared in The Australian on Thursday about the possible defections from the Melbourne Rebels will turn out to be only a quarter true.

    If no broadcast deal is done, then all four Super Rugby franchises can expect a player stampede to the international airport — presuming there were any flights for them to catch. It certainly wouldn’t just be the Rebels.

    All this sparring only forms the undercard to the main event: the broadcast deal from 2021-25. If Fox Sports or some other mystery buyer doesn’t come to the party with a meaningful offer, rugby will be floundering. When the previous deal was negotiated, there were five Australian teams. Now there are four and, on a per-franchise basis, the $US25m ($37.5m)-a-year Fox offer rejected by Raelene Castle would have been enough, just barely, to keep professional rugby ticking over in this country.

    At the time, her rejection of Delany’s offer looked like no more than the usual argy-bargy of negotiating television rights. Now, in hindsight, it looks like Castle passed up a golden opportunity to secure the future of the sport. Not that she would have known that in those pre-coronavirus times.

    In her mind, she would have needed an improved number from the broadcaster to make up for the fact that each union would, every second year, have two fewer home games from which to make money, eight down to six. The other year they would have had seven home games, all as a result of
    SANZAAR’s decision to do away with the conference system and replace it with a 14-team round robin competition.

    So now it is not only whether Fox will make an offer at all but, if it does, how much money will be required to keep the existing four franchises afloat.

    That’s difficult to say given that RA must surely be looking at cutting at least $5m from its own headquarters’ expenses through rationalisation and mere commonsense spending, and arguably the same again collectively from the four franchises. Consider, too, the savings to be made by trimming Super Rugby squads from, say, 35 players to 30. And there will be job losses, sadly but inevitably.

    Beyond that we are forced to consider culling or merging franchises, and I can imagine a number of Super Rugby bosses tuning out at this point because that is the last thing they want to hear.

    Would one of the surviving franchises turn out to be the Force? Having made it back into Super Rugby — of sorts — this year, they wouldn’t take kindly to being elbowed aside in 2021. So, if there is only enough money for four, why wouldn’t a self-sufficient Force be one of them, which would leave the Rebels and Brumbies eyeing each other dubiously?

    And what if there is an appetite for only three Aussie sides in a remodelled trans-Tasman competition alongside five Kiwi teams, two Japanese and one islander side? It would be unthinkable to cut the most successful Australian side, the Brumbies, but does it all come down to the states that are producing players and/or can look after themselves financially? The Waratahs, Reds and Force?

    And if it transpires that there is no broadcast deal or that the money offered is pitiful, which bewilders me given that this broadcast cycle includes a tour by the British and Irish Lions in 2025, might everything then be turned on its head? Could Global Rapid Rugby become the lifeboat for professional rugby in this country? Would Forrest be able to negotiate a broadcast deal? Would he even need to? Whatever happens, Forrest will be in the middle of it all.

    I admit this is all totally fanciful stuff. But when you realise that quality Australian players are taking up offers to move to the US for about $80,000 plus free accommodation for a five-month Major League Rugby contract, you get a stark sense of how unsettled the game here has become.

    Small wonder Clarke told the Super Rugby franchise bosses on Thursday that he understood the need for urgency. Until there is success on the broadcast front, they are sitting ducks for overseas clubs and player agents with cashflow problems.

    Wayne Smith
    Senior Sport Writer

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...4311a893537ad9

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  2. #167
    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Fox have just contracted with the NRL until 2027 and Ch 9 until 2022 - at reduced rates. The RLPA pretty much immediately accepted that player payments would do the same - but still be very attractive over that period. Unnamed Sauces (via The Fitz Files) have Fox telling the FFA that if they don't accept a 50-70% decrease in money they will walk away from Fudbol. That's only $17 - $29 million P.A. for the remaining 3 seasons. So it's far from certain that Clarke can do a deal that brings enough money to even keep franchises afloat past the September end of player payments. Let alone into the future broadcast cycle.

    P.S. I wonder where Smith got the info that the Force would be self funded if this comp eventuates. Last I read was the RA would be sharing the load.

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  3. #168
    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Wayne has got the mood of the WA rugby community and its benefactor totally wrong when he says the Force wouldnít take kindly to being elbowed aside

    We have our own competition in GRR and are only taking part in the Super Rugby AU thing because it suits us and because Andrew is content to give RA a bit of support in its time of immediate need.

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  4. #169
    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Beat me to it Alison, this is faux support for the force by a rugby Australia apologist of the highest order.

    Smith doesn't give a fuck about justice for fans in WA, he's just mouthing what he thinks the RA want twiggy to hear in the hope that the 70 million might get thrown back on the table.

    At risk of making a bold statement I don't think I'd be interested in being a force member if they jumped back into bed with rugby Australia without gaining some world changing concessions

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  5. #170
    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Same, GIGS. But I’m very confident that Andrew won’t lead us there unless there is fundamental, ground-breaking change at the national level.

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  6. #171
    Veteran valzc's Avatar
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    Either way the horizon isn’t looking too rosy for the Rebels A drivel post on GAGR still claiming what a wonderful market for sports Melbourne is, so rugby in Melbourne is a given apparently. Kind of forget its great for all sports except rugby as we’ve seen by the crowds. They believe the Brumbies & Rebels should merge & play out of Melbourne. Try selling that one to the Brumbies! Looks like the Rebels are goners - there won’t be any players left anyhoo, except for all those local homegrown ones of course

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    Quote Originally Posted by valzc View Post
    Either way the horizon isn’t looking too rosy for the Rebels A drivel post on GAGR still claiming what a wonderful market for sports Melbourne is, so rugby in Melbourne is a given apparently. Kind of forget its great for all sports except rugby as we’ve seen by the crowds. They believe the Brumbies & Rebels should merge & play out of Melbourne. Try selling that one to the Brumbies! Looks like the Rebels are goners - there won’t be any players left anyhoo, except for all those local homegrown ones of course
    And dave wessells must be feeling a bit odd too - another victim of the deClyne

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    Last edited by wallabydarnd; 31-05-20 at 09:35.

  8. #173
    Veteran Bakkies's Avatar
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    The RAís accounts still not up.

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    May I sincerely apologise for my inadvertent typo above which Gave our ex coach Such a nasty new surname
    Totally unintended
    Felt v sorry for him throughout this ordeal and wish him all the best

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  10. #175
    Veteran Bakkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallabydarnd View Post
    May I sincerely apologise for my inadvertent typo above which Gave our ex coach Such a nasty new surname
    Totally unintended
    Felt v sorry for him throughout this ordeal and wish him all the best
    Blame it on autocorrect. You can go back and edit it as no one has quoted the post.

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  11. #176
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallabydarnd View Post
    And dave wessells must be feeling a bit odd too - another victim of the deClyne
    I like Wessels, but yes he must be thinking he made a mistake in not staying with the Force and Twiggy or going to Ireland. Uprooted his family to move for the third time in under 10 years.
    I assume he has taken a huge cut in salary like his players, who are starting to desert him. Rebels looking very shaky and if the fail, it is hard to think of another coaching spot in Australia for him, especially on the generous salary he would have been getting in recent years.

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  12. #177
    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkies View Post
    The RA’s accounts still not up.
    The member unions haven’t even seen them yet, let alone voted to accept them. Clarke talking out of his backside again yesterday when telling the Oz that he was confident they would be filed by the ASIC deadline of 31 May.

    I wrote to ASIC last month to ask them what action they were taking over the initial breach and I got a reply saying that as I was not a director of the company or otherwise involved with it, they were not able to share any information with me. Such a fine public institution is our ASIC. Not.

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    I think we have a much, much better coach in Tim Sampson than we ever did in Wessels. What Sambo has done with our team is sensational and very special. All they have at the Rebels is dysfunction, a list of disgruntled players and a total lack of team culture.

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  14. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    I think we have a much, much better coach in Tim Sampson than we ever did in Wessels. What Sambo has done with our team is sensational and very special. All they have at the Rebels is dysfunction, a list of disgruntled players and a total lack of team culture.
    Yes, Sampson is doing a sensational job. Hopefully his wonder touch can produce a few wins for us in this Super comp. Beating the Tahs would be enough of a dream for me. Well if we beat the Tahs in my dream, then lets win the comp.

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Hell yeah, JSJ!

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