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Thread: State of Union, Super 8 Series among new additions in Rugby AU broadcast offering

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    State of Union, Super 8 Series among new additions in Rugby AU broadcast offering

    State of Union, Super 8 Series among new additions in Rugby AU broadcast offering

    by Beth Newman
    Aug 10, 2020

    A State of Union series, an international Super Eight series and a professional competition with five Australian teams whether it be domestic or trans-Tasman are all part of Rugby Australia's plans for 2021 and beyond.

    Rugby Australia will on Monday distribute documents to potential broadcast partners detailing the content they will provide in a broadcast deal ideally spanning through to 2025.

    Rugby AU CEO Rob Clarke confirmed on Monday afternoon that the organisation had included options for both a trans-Tasman and a domestic Super Rugby competition.

    The deadline for broadcasters to respond is September 4, after which Rugby AU will enter more formal negotiations.

    Outside of a domestic or Trans-Tasman competition and the Rugby Championship, Rugby AU will propose the inception of a State of Union series, like rugby league's State of Origin, and a Super Eight Series.

    That Super Eight Series would include the top two teams from the Australian, New Zealand and South African competition and, it is hoped, the top team from Japan's Top League and South America's domestic competition.

    Beneath the professional offerings, the rights package also includes Shute Shield and Hospital Challenge Cup matches after Rugby Australia reacquired the rights for those earlier this year, premier schools matches and a previously touted national club championship to be held at the conclusion of the regular seasons.

    Rugby Australia broadcast offering

    • Trans-Tasman or Super Rugby AU competition
    • Super Eight series involving top two of Australian, New Zealand and South African teams and top Japanese and South American team
    • State of Union to be played between Queensland and New South Wales
    • National club championship
    • Shute Shield
    • Hospital Challenge Cup
    • Selected schools matches


    Rugby AU CEO Rob Clarke described the offering as the most "largest and most comprehensive collection of rugby rights ever put to the market in Australia".

    What the main domestic professional product looks like largely depends on what New Zealand decides to do with their competition, after announcing that their ideal format would involve 8-10 teams and as few as two Australian teams or as many as four.

    The rights could be carved up into sections for a variety of broadcasters or be sold as exclusive rights to one broadcaster, ideally to carry through to 2025 in line with deals that South Africa and New Zealand have struck.

    Clarke said a "number" of broadcasters had shown interest in acquiring rugby rights.

    "As I said right at the beginning, we need to make decisions in the best interest of rugby in Australia and we have had wide-ranging discussions with a number of organisations, both here in Australia and overseas," he said.

    "I don’t want to go into specifics obviously but I’m confident that there are a number of interested parties based on the three months’ worth of work I’ve done up to this point."

    A lack of free-to-air presence is a constant point of discussion among rugby fans when looking at the health of the game, especially when compared to some of the other major football codes.

    In the current deal, one Super Rugby replay has been shown on Ten's HD channel One, on a Sunday morning.

    Internationals will continue to be shown on free-to-air under the anti-siphoning act, which stipulates that certain events must be available free to the public.

    "The way we've constructed the packages is to try and encourage free to air, particularly around state of origin/ state of union, we think that is a perfect competition to be on free to air," he said.

    "We would like to see one match of Super Rugby be on free to air each week and in addition to Test matches which are subject to anti-siphoning.

    "It's important to look at ways to grow the game and our view is the more people that get to experience rugby through any media, will actually drive greater interest back to subscription television as well so if we can grow and expand our base through whatever means, social media, digital channels, free to air, we actually think that helps the whole ecosystem of rugby so subscriptions will also benefit from that."

    PROFESSIONAL DOMESTIC COMPETITION MODEL

    Clarke said Rugby AU would not be budging on its commitment to field five Australian teams going forward and "D Day" was coming for New Zealand Rugby around its desire for a trans-Tasman competition model or otherwise.

    "We have put a deadline for broadcast submissions of the fourth of September and before we enter into any final negotiations with a broadcast partner this has to be settled," he said.

    "So D day is coming.

    "We can’t make much longer on the whole trans-Tasman competition decision.

    "That has been going on now for some considerable period of time and I think it is only fair on the broadcast discussions we are having with potential partners that we are able to give them as much clarity about what the future looks like as soon as possible."

    If New Zealand opts against agreeing to a trans-Tasman competition with five Australian and five New Zealand teams, Clarke said Australia would continue discussions with Japan and also the Pacific Island nations around having teams in Australia's tournament.

    "It's five Australian teams, you can guarantee that," he said.

    "We are in detailed discussions with the Japanese rugby union about a potential involvement of Japan in any future competitions and indeed the pacific, Fiji and other nations in the pacific, are always looking to get involved.

    "Having the Drua involved in our National Rugby Championship paved the way to show just what they can do both on the field and the engagement with fans and that's something we'll look to explore as well.

    "There will be options into the future but at this point in time, we've said there's five Australian teams and we're happy to go forward on that basis."

    SUPER EIGHT

    The Super Eight Series will feature the top two Australian and New Zealand teams from either domestic or a trans-Tasman competition, South Africa's top two teams and potentially Japan's Top League champions and a top South American side.

    The competition would be held after the domestic season, which would likely be shorter than previous Super Rugby seasons given fewer teams are involved.

    Clarke said the Super Eight Series would be able to occur in either a trans-Tasman competition model or a fully Australian competition model.

    "If the trans-Tasman competition happens it essentially fits into the window that we've slated around domestic pro rugby so you'd still have super eight sitting at the back end," he said.

    "We'd like to if at all possible have a Japanese team and a South American team involved in that.

    "Whether it would be the top teams in the Top League in Japan and the winning team out of the South American league, we'd like to see if we could do that as well, to really start to just round out the Super Eight series."

    STATE OF UNION

    The "State of Union" series would initially be rugby's version of rugby league's hugely successful State of Origin that has become the jewel of the 13-man code's crown.

    Eligibility criteria for that game will be released later in the year Clarke said, with a view to encompassing as many players as possible.

    "It's no more complex than really what has happened in other codes where there will be your state of birth or possibly where you played your junior rugby," he said.

    "There may be some other little caveats around but it will be very much building on, in the first instance, NSW versus Queensland and the 130 years' worth of proud history that those states have had playing rugby against each other, bringing that to the fore.

    It's this interstate clash that Clarke hopes will be a carrot for a free-to-air broadcaster.

    https://www.rugby.com.au/news/2020/0...al-2021-update

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ham105 View Post
    Eligibility criteria for that game will be released later in the year Clarke said, with a view to encompassing as many players as possible.
    Question Mark!

    How can a state of origin concept possibly vary the number of players they "encompass" with eligibility criteria? Surely that's just a way for NSW and Qld to claim every player who has ever donned a jersey in the country.

    Before you complain, I know they already do this, but this sounds like a method of codifying it.

    I wonder how this could possibly be used as a method to boost the Rebels (apart from maybe NSW/Qld stars will be more likely to go to Coronaville if they know they can still play for "home" in the origin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    Question Mark!

    How can a state of origin concept possibly vary the number of players they "encompass" with eligibility criteria? Surely that's just a way for NSW and Qld to claim every player who has ever donned a jersey in the country.

    Before you complain, I know they already do this, but this sounds like a method of codifying it.
    Yeah. Must say I am not a fan of SotU.

    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    I wonder how this could possibly be used as a method to boost the Rebels (apart from maybe NSW/Qld stars will be more likely to go to Coronaville if they know they can still play for "home" in the origin.
    It could be the plan.

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    Am I correct in saying no more NRC?

    Sounds like NSW and QLD have walked in with a shopping list and got everything they want - state of origin, club championship (which will be basically the big shute shield and hospital cup teams plus 1 club from ACT, Melbourne and Perth)

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    I am so bored of all this posturing from the snake oil salesmen at RA.

    I really, really don’t want the Force to have to go back to being the east coast’s poor cousin and whipping boy again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansyjive View Post
    Am I correct in saying no more NRC?

    Sounds like NSW and QLD have walked in with a shopping list and got everything they want - state of origin, club championship (which will be basically the big shute shield and hospital cup teams plus 1 club from ACT, Melbourne and Perth)
    True. State of Origin - Nah. Also that 1 club from ACT, Melbourne and Perth is not going to work for us. The cost for the one winning local club just in flying would be massive.

    I wonder if some form of GRR can continue instead?

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    Some other detail from Tom Decent:

    'D-Day is coming': Super Eight and state series set to shake up rugby

    By Tom Decent
    August 10, 2020 — 6.06pm

    A Champions League style "Super Eight" concept, to run after either a domestic competition or trans-Tasman equivalent, and Australian rugby's own State of Origin series are two fresh ideas included by Rugby Australia in a new broadcast package that will be taken to market.

    Monday's announcement came as interim RA boss Rob Clarke put the heat on New Zealand to make a call on next year, warning that "D-Day is coming" and made it clear Australia wants to formally begin negotiations by September 4 for a broadcast package that won't include the 2025 British and Irish Lions series in it.

    RA was forced to delay broadcast negotiations earlier this year for 2021 onwards due to COVID-19 and since then, the rugby landscape has changed significantly.

    While a five-year broadcast deal is RA's preferred length, like previous deals, Clarke said consideration may given to reducing the duration.

    Clarke has been working for three months to package up rugby content with John Knox, an independent advisor, and alongside a Rugby Australia board sub-committee.

    He revealed on Monday RA is keen on the idea of a four-week 'Super Eight' mini-competition featuring the top two sides from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - depending on standings in their own domestic competitions - plus a team from Japan and South America to battle it out.

    What’s on the table

    Australia have put a three-week deadline to New Zealand regarding a trans-Tasman competition, otherwise they’ll go it alone.

    New products

    • Either an eight-team domestic competition (five Australian teams plus potential other sides from Japan and Pacific Islands) or a trans-Tasman equivalent (five Australian teams, five New Zealand teams)
    • Super 8 (Four-week competition featuring top two from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, plus one each from Japan and South America).
    • ‘State of Union’ three-game series
    • National Club Championships (best of all states, to be played after state-based comps)


    Existing products

    • Bledisloe Cup matches
    • Rugby Championship matches
    • Shute Shield
    • Wallaroos Tests


    Rugby Australia will take the whole package to market; not give Fox Sports the first and only bid.

    *2025 Lions tour will be sold separately from broadcast package.

    The cross-over competition would be wedged between whatever provincial competition takes place and Test matches later in the year. It would need buy-in from other nations, in particular New Zealand, who are understood to be keen.

    If a trans-Tasman competition does take place next year, which is still Australia's preferred option with all five of its teams involved, the top two Australian and Kiwi sides could still be plucked out to play in the "Super Eight" competition.

    The final piece of the puzzle for Australia, before it can sign off on a new deal, is organising what next year looks like. New Zealand invited Australia to put forward expressions of interest to join its trans-Tasman competition but wants fewer teams from Australia than RA.

    It's something RA still isn't budging on and is happy to go it alone.

    "We have put a deadline for broadcast submissions of September 4 and before we enter into any final negotiations with a broadcast partner, this has to be settled. D-Day is coming," Clarke said.

    "We can't wait much longer on the whole trans-Tasman competition decision. That has been going on now for some considerable period of time and I think it is only fair on the broadcast discussions we are having with potential partners that we are able to give them as much clarity about what the future looks like as soon as possible.

    "We are doing what we believe is best for rugby in this market."

    In terms of new competitions, RA is pushing ahead with its National Club Championship, which will see the best teams in Australia battle it out once their respective state-based seasons have finished.

    While the three-game "State of Union" idea is the same as rugby league's annual showpiece, with players hailing from their state of birth, Clarke hopes it can possibly be snapped up by a free-to-air broadcaster.

    "The way we've constructed the packages is to try and encourage free-to-air [exposure], particularly around 'State of Union'," Clarke said. "We think that is a perfect competition to be on free-to-air.

    "It will be building on NSW versus Queensland and the 130 years' worth of proud history that those states have.

    "We would also like to see one match of Super Rugby be on free-to-air each week in addition to Tests. Our view is the more people that get to experience rugby through any media will actually drive greater interest back to subscription television."

    Clarke said informal discussions had taken place with a number of broadcasters, which suggests RA is happy to give more than just Fox Sports a chance at becoming the home of rugby. However, flexibility will be offered, meaning certain tournaments or competitions could be owned by different broadcasters.

    RA rejected an offer from Fox Sports earlier in the year for 2021-2025 rights and came within a whisker of inking a deal with Optus Sport before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

    "This will be, I think it's fair to say, probably the largest and most comprehensive collection of rugby rights ever put to the market in Australia," Clarke said.

    Asked if he expected RA to receive less money than its current deal, Clarke replied: "If I had my crystal ball, I'd be able to answer that question. Ask me in three weeks' time or four weeks' time when this process is complete. We know that sporting broadcast rights have seen some challenging times in both Australia and in other markets around the world. That said I think rugby has an enormous amount to offer a broadcast partner.

    "I'm naturally an optimistic person. I'm hopeful we're going to get to a great result.

    "I think in a way we're entering the market at not a bad time because many of the broadcasters have gone through pretty fundamental re-negotiations with a number of other sports and so a lot of their heavy lifting there has been done. They have known we have been working towards a formal process around this time and so this afternoon [Monday] they'll be receiving those documents."

    A major money-spinner is the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour but like New Zealand and South Africa had done, RA will do that as a separate negotiation.

    "The challenge is that we don't have an agreement yet with the British and Irish Lions about what that tour might look like," Clarke said.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...10-p55kcf.html

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    Clarke is utterly deluded if he really thinks an Australia-only offering would raise anywhere near enough money to keep the good ship Rugby Australia and its thirsty east coast unions afloat.

    I call bullshit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Clarke is utterly deluded if he really thinks an Australia-only offering would raise anywhere near enough money to keep the good ship Rugby Australia and its thirsty east coast unions afloat. I call bullshit.
    He is similarly deluded if he thinks anybody outside the limited fan bases of the teams wil give half a shit about national club competition. No club has enough followers for that to become a commercial success.

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    They're now talking about Optus bidding again ...

    Name:  2020-08-10 Optus, Rugby Australia broadcast deal - revolutionary package reignites interest P1a.png
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    + some further info on the proposed S8 comp:

    The jewel in the crown is the Super Eight proposal that would mirror European football’s Champions League, pitting the best southern hemisphere teams against each other in a five-week tournament.

    If a trans-Tasman Super Rugby deal is struck, the Super Eight would start at the finals stage of that tournament.

    If Australia and New Zealand play domestic tournaments, the Super Eight would start iimmediately afterwards.

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    Here's one for those who want to stick it to the man. Well ... maybe.

    NZH (no byline) on two teams, one possibly being the Western Force, willing to stay in New Zealand next year.

    Name:  2020-08-11 nzh Post-Covid a.png
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    https://www.pressreader.com/new-zeal...81930250333079

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    Last edited by Ham105; 11-08-20 at 08:47.

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    No super keen on the Force playing away games for all of next year though.

    That will do nothing for our bottom line and will lose fans. Only the rusted on supporters will hang around when the Force are playing at 3pm on the telly.

    TBH, I'd rather have a one year deal with McLennan and his satanic sidekick than never see the team play live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    No super keen on the Force playing away games for all of next year though.

    That will do nothing for our bottom line and will lose fans. Only the rusted on supporters will hang around when the Force are playing at 3pm on the telly.

    TBH, I'd rather have a one year deal with McLennan and his satanic sidekick than never see the team play live.
    As bad as that situation is, McGowan has already said that the state borders may be closed until Mid-next year so even if we are in an Australian domestic competition we might still be in the same situation.

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    3pm on a Saturday, club rugby. 3 pm on a Friday in business hours.

    It's likely 16-18 weeks on the road and two seasons in a row without a home game, so yeah.

    For players living in a hotels all that time and fans with no incentive for memberships, it's a tough row to hoe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by volvo View Post
    As bad as that situation is, McGowan has already said that the state borders may be closed until Mid-next year so even if we are in an Australian domestic competition we might still be in the same situation.
    N.b. it is only if borders stay closed. While it may hurt in the short term to be based in NZ for season 1, in the long term (2022 and beyond) it will be much more beneficial both from a player perspective and commercial perspective. You are playing a higher calibre of teams which is great for the development of our WA players [remember Twiggy wants to do what is best for WA rugby], it will also help us attract more players to the force. Also NZ teams and a pacific team (hopefully more pacific teams in the future) will bring in larger crowds (post social distancing).

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