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Opinion

Where to for Rugby Australia?

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Roar Guru
24th April, 2020
176
1432 Reads

Raelene Castle has fallen on her sword and resigned as CEO of Rugby Australia.

Personally, I think everything that led up to this from the concerted bad press from Fox and their affiliates to the ‘Captains’ Letter’ from Nick Farr-Jones and associates stinks to high heaven.

Regardless it is done and we need to look at what comes next. We have an interim chairman in Paul McLean and a vacant CEO seat, no TV deal and an uncertain future as to when rugby may start again and what it may look like when it does.

I rather feel that the first thing that should happen is the appointment of an interim CEO, quickly and most importantly followed by appointing the new chairman.

After we have a new chairman then the new permanent CEO can be found before we look at what rugby is going to look like and arrange a new broadcast deal.

My nomination for the chairman role would be Geoff Stooke – he is one of the only people that can truly hold his head high after the whole Force debacle and Rugby Australia doesn’t deserve the name until West Australia is brought back into the fold.

A former chairman of Rugby WA, he appears uniquely qualified to me to fill the role and announced as recently as November 2019 that he would seek to return to the RA board.

Let him as chairman drive the CEO appointment, the re-integration of Western Australia Rugby and the next steps in the game.

As far as next steps and the broadcast agreement – these sit hand in hand. I rather feel that Super Rugby has run its course in Australia and recent events mean that I never want to see rugby on Fox Sports ever again.

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I’ve previously touted NRC taking the primary role in Oz rugby, with a three-way origin series of NSW, Qld and Rest of Oz competing in the window between the June internationals and the Rugby Championship.

That idea has been rightly challenged on, where will the money come from?

With New Zealand continuing to state they want to remain aligned with South Africa then perhaps the Australian path lies with the other group that Super Rugby didn’t work for – Japan.

J Sports TV, a Japanese owned broadcast network broadcast, televise Japan’s Top League. Is there a way to bring them, Global Rapid Rugby, Twiggy, the likes of Optus, Channel Ten or an alternate, the NRC and the Top League into a new competition?

Played in friendly time zones, with a seven-team Australian input and buy-in from the other bodies?

Angus Bell of the Waratahs

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Even if we exit Super Rugby, Australia should be seeking to remain in the Rugby Championship and seeking to bring Japan in with them as part of a newly-negotiated deal.

This is a bit of a thought bubble, timing of the season would have to be considered. Japan’s Top League currently plays August to January.

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The key is looking at ensuring there is a partner to help finance an alternate competition, Japan should be able to leverage the positivity from the World Cup into something stronger than they have today and this could be a path.

How the Japanese teams would integrate would require them to advise, would it be a promotion-relegation of the top four or five Top League sides? Composite teams? Or distinct entities separate from the current corporate sides?

Would all of the China, HK, Malaysia, Fiji and Samoa sides that are in GRR today make the cut? Does that comp survive if Western Australia has an alternate path to stronger competition?

I don’t know if there is a path forward in the idea above, I don’t know if someone like Stooke would help guide the game in that direction. I’d love us to still compete against New Zealand but we probably need to find a new vehicle to do that.

Maybe those three origin sides play each other once and have one game each against an NZ, SA and Argentine side each year, Super Rugby without Oz might be a shorter season.

I really only know a few things: first and foremost we need to re-integrate Western Australia and Stooke looks a potential path to that, Super Rugby isn’t working in Oz and I never want to see Oz Rugby on Fox ever again.

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