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Australia and New Zealand continue to butt heads over their Super Rugby relationship.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan is at it again, taunting New Zealand over a perceived Super Rugby “inequality” and threatening Aussie participation “unless it’s a 50-50 joint venture”.
The dirty laundry in the trans-Tasman relationship continues to be aired in public, this time McLennan using the respected British-based Rugby World magazine to push the Australian cause.
“We’re very open to an aligned global calendar in the men’s game and are talking to World Rugby about how best to achieve that end goal. As for Super Rugby, common sense will hopefully prevail, but for it to work it needs to be an equal partnership,” McLennan wrote in a column in the latest issue of Rugby World.
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“Let’s not forget, Australia has a much larger economy and five times the population of New Zealand. It’s not been an equal partnership and gone are the days when New Zealand can dictate the terms of everything.
“There are cracks in the system and they need us more than ever. We won’t participate unless it’s a 50-50 joint venture … I want to be able to build a strong rugby ecosystem that will live for a long, long time.”
Figures show declining TV viewership for the competition, with the early rounds of 2022 averaging around 100,000 viewers.
McLennan is doubling down on earlier threats where he said if NZ Rugby didn’t address the imbalance in broadcasting revenue of around $67 million, Rugby Australia may walk away from the trans-Tasman competition and set up a domestic one in 2024.
Rugby Australia has already received the backing of their broadcaster Stan Sport to go it alone in Super Rugby as early as next year if it’s in the best interest of the game there.
McLennan’s latest ultimatum comes after New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson told stuff last weekend that he felt dialogue with Australia had been positive and “we don’t believe it’s a relationship on the rocks”.
“There have been some comments publicly which we were surprised by, and certainly aren’t aligned with … they were a flashpoint in a moment of time probably designed for an outcome we’re not sure about. We think there is a foundation of a really positive Super Rugby competition … but we just need some time to bed it in,” Robinson told stuff while in South Africa for the opening rounds of the Rugby Championship.
The felt Super Rugby was built to last.
“Australia have their challenges, and we need to work with them,” Robinson said.
On the prospect of the Australians going it alone, Robinson said: “Anyone with a fair degree of insight into the way sports, markets and commercial models work could draw their own conclusion pretty quickly.
“We think a Pacific-wide competition is in the best interests of the game.”