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Exclusive: Rugby Australia makes sweeping redundancies as governing body braces for 'economic headwinds'

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Editor
22nd February, 2024
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A week after 10 Rebels staff were laid off, Rugby Australia has followed suit with their own ‘restructure’.

The Roar can reveal that seven staff, including two members of the executive committee, were made redundant on the eve of the Super Rugby Pacific competition getting underway.

It’s believed Anthony French, who was a director who worked in government relations, previously led RA’s commercial, media and marketing division, and was instrumental in helping get the 2027 and 2029 Rugby World Cups across the line, took a voluntary redundancy. French was at RA for more than a decade and left to set up a new consultancy firm.

Another was marketing officer Matt McGrath, who is the chief marketing officer for Deloitte. McGrath, who had come into the role less than a year ago, was the brains behind the recently launched Super Rugby Pacific advertisement campaign that received widespread praise.

Others from the partnerships and finance team were also let go.

Watch every match of Super Rugby Pacific ad-free, live & on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport

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Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh says the game is bracing for some “economic headwinds”. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Last year’s World Cup blowout, which is believed to have been as high as $4 million, isn’t the reason being given for restructuring.

Indeed, RA chief executive Phil Waugh, who replaced Andy Marinos midway through last year, said the game needed to be run as effectively and efficiently as possible to thrive into the future.

“I’m conscious of the broader economic headwinds that the game faces and we’ve got to ensure that we’re leading by example,” Waugh told The Roar.

“We are focussed on being structured in the most effective way to achieve the broader objectives of the game.”

The restructuring will help RA get much-needed dollars off their books ahead of what is expected to be another difficult year. It follows the typically slow World Cup years, where the Wallabies played just two home Tests.

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With no headline act like England to tour Australia like in 2022, RA is bracing for another tough year with Wales and Georgia to play the Wallabies for three Tests in July before next year’s bumper British and Irish Lions campaign.

Waugh is expected to deliver the recommendations of the review into last year’s World Cup failure, where the Wallabies missed the knockout stages for the first time, next week.

Meanwhile, the Melbourne Rebels, the debt-ridden Super Rugby franchise, have been given a stay of execution.

After falling into voluntary administration in late January, PwC was due to hand down its final report on March 4 – a day after Super Round in Melbourne – but the Rebels have been given a 60-day extension that will allow the board to propose an alternative arrangement to creditors, in an attempt to avoid liquidation.

It comes after it was revealed earlier this month the Rebels have $22 million worth of debt and only $17,300 in the bank.

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