The end? Super Rugby could be on its last legs. Picture: Getty
The end? Super Rugby could be on its last legs. Picture: Getty

Super Rugby could be on its last legs

Super Rugby faces extinction via pandemic, as SANZAAR nations conduct secret modelling on domestic-only tournaments for 2021.

While the focus of the southern hemisphere rugby community is attempting to get some form of rugby up this year in a bid to stem multimillion-dollar losses, there are growing fears that finances and border restrictions impacted by COVID-19 could affect the game into next year.

News Corp Australia understands New Zealand Rugby is planning a contingency scenario where they'd play a domestic-only competition next year, with their top All Blacks spread across 14 teams, if Super Rugby cannot proceed.

 

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Rugby Australia has set up a "think tank" to consider a similar domestic tournament, that may be forced if they cannot secure a broadcast deal for 2021 and cannot honour their commitment to SANZAAR.

All unions are beholden to the laws regarding coronavirus.

They're desperately hoping that border restrictions can be lifted at some stage this year so revenue-raising Test matches can be played.

Australia projects a $120 million loss of revenue if no games can be played for the remainder of the year, while New Zealand would lose about $100 million.

South Africa is in the infancy of dealing with the coronavirus crisis, and their struggling medical system and existing health issues among large parts of their population could see them hit hardest of all.

 

Both New Zealand and South Africa have signed broadcast deals for 2021-25, based on a 15-team Super Rugby season and existing The Rugby Championship format.

RA had failed to find a broadcast deal before the COVID-19 crisis hit, and forced them to put off talks.

Given the major economic damage being suffered across the board, and broadcasters including Fox Sports and New Zealand's Sky Sports looking to slash costs, it is looking unlikely that RA will find a partner willing to shell out anywhere near the $57 million annual deal they sit on now.

All of this is unfolding as there is a major stand-off between RA and players' union RUPA over how much Australia's 192 professional players will sacrifice from their own salaries, after 75 per cent of RA staff and most of those from Super clubs were stood down for three months, to claim the government's $1500-a-fortnight JobSeeker payments instead.

Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle has one of the toughest jobs in the country. Picture: Getty
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle has one of the toughest jobs in the country. Picture: Getty

RUPA scoffed at an RA presentation of their financial situation, presented in graphs, and want to see fully disclosed balance sheets with expenditure and projections.

RA is not budging for now, content they've shown RUPA all the information they're obliged to under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For as long as this stalemate lasts and an agreement on players' wage cuts is not reached, they'll continue to earn their full salaries, taking a huge toll on RA's books as they lose millions.

The global pandemic has made Super Rugby impossible in the short term, given foreigners are banned from entering the nations involved.

The ongoing complications of limiting the coronavirus spread and alleviating the strain on hospitals has left many predicting that borders will be closed beyond 2020, which would null this year's Super Rugby and TRC competitions and place it in doubt for next year.

NZR announced that each of their five Super franchises would be given an emergency grant of $NZ250,000 each to ensure their survival over the next three months.

Originally published as The end? Super Rugby could be on its last legs


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