Challenges Face Rugby Australia as 2019 Winds Down

Years of being associated with sports has provided a certain degree of jaundice. It is fun to watch the games, still, but one thing that has been repeated ad infinitum are expressions of support for players, coaches and administrators, only to see that support evaporate quicker than a summer shower in Perth.

Raelene Castle received a ringing endorsement from Rugby Australia Board chairman Cameron Clyne, which sounded suspiciously like the sort of statement a top honcho makes before he or she dispatches the hood wearing headsman with axe at the ready.

“Raelene’s position is not in question,” Clyne confirmed. “The Board is united behind the process undertaken with Israel Folau.”

Folau and his politically incorrect social media posts about the future awaiting those who do not ascribe to his brand of living was a minor distraction.

Folau never stood to see a dollar from his lawsuits against Rugby Australia for tearing up his contract and banishing him.

The 500-kilo room in the room is the uncertainty that surrounds Super Rugby going forward as the league will see the end of its broadcast deal at the conclusion of the 2020 Super Rugby competition.

All the signs are there for those who care to see them.

Western Australia Force were sent packing whilst owning the league money that would make Midas blush. Japan is bidding adieu at the end of 2020.

A healthy league expands, or boasts of record attendances and TV audiences.

Said Clyne in that regard, “2020 is an important year with the broadcast rights. Negotiations underway and we remain in dialogue with our long-term partner Fox Sports as we aim to deliver the strongest levels of coverage for all of our competitions over the next five-year cycle.”

Just as ringing endorsements often signal the departure of the endorsee, in this sense, ‘negotiations’ seems to imply that the main broadcast partner is seeking a discount.

Unless RA has an ace up its sleeve in the form of another suitor for the broadcast rights to Super Rugby, further contraction seems inevitable, especially given the words of NSW Waratahs chairman Roger Davis, who told reporters, “We are all broke unless the [rights] deal goes up.”