AAP Rugby

New comp part of Rugby Aust broadcast deal

By AAP Newswire

Rugby Australia isn't backing down on keeping five Australian Super Rugby teams and has given New Zealand a deadline for a 2021 trans-Tasman competition.

After a three-month consultation process RA has put a five-year broadcast package to market that as well as the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championships includes new content such as a State of Origin series, national club championship and a Super Eight play-off tournament.

The latter will involve the top two teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a team from Japan and South America and will follow various Super Rugby competitions.

What precedes it is a sticking point, with New Zealand last month asking Australia to submit an expression of interest for two teams to join the Kiwis' eight-team competition.

That model was firmly rebuffed by RA, with interim chief executive Rob Clarke on Monday underlining that it's five teams or nothing.

"At Super Rugby level we have two models that we've put forward, one is a domestic only model and the other is a trans-Tasman model," Clarke said.

"We can't wait much longer on the whole trans-Tasman competition decision so the clock is ticking.

"We have put a deadline from broadcast submissions of September 4 and before we enter into any final negotiations with a broadcast partner this has to be settled so D day is coming."

Clarke believes the current domestic competition is gaining popularity and demonstrates there's enough talent for five Australian teams.

He said there was an option in the future for Japan and teams from the Pacific Islands to join Australia.

"We are increasingly buoyed by the quality of the games we are now starting to see in our domestic competition," he said.

RA had to put together an on-the-run broadcast deal this year when the regular Super Rugby competition was called off due to coronavirus.

With former chief executive Raelene Castle rejecting a $35 million per year offer to take the offer to market, it's expected that RA will take a big hit on that.

Clarke admitted times were tough but was upbeat that it would prove attractive to broadcasters, who could split the content.

"We're entering the market at not a bad time because many of the broadcasters have gone through pretty fundamental renegotiations with a number of other sports and so a lot of their heavy lifting there has been done.

"I think now that we're coming to market with what we believe is a wonderful and exciting comprehensive package.

"I think they have an appetite and bandwidth to actually consider it seriously."

Meanwhile, RA is pushing ahead to have the first two Bledisloe Cup matches in the four-Test series played in Australia on October 10 and 17 and is in talks with the AFL regarding the grand final, with its date and location to be finalised.

"There's a lot of cat and mouse going on around the country about who's playing where and what date but all of us are running out of time so we have to lock in quickly," Clarke said.

"I expect that we will get clarity in the coming week or two."