Another massive blow for Rugby Australia as key sponsor walks away

Dylan Coetzee
Wallabies rugby.

Wallabies rugby.

Rugby Australia’s turbulent period has hit another hurdle as Super Rugby sponsor Harvey Norman confirmed they would not be renewing their three-year sponsorship of the tournament.

The news comes after a tricky period including a disastrous Rugby World Cup, Eddie Jones resigning as coach and Hamish McLennan being forced out as chairman.

Moving on

Harvey Norman chairperson Gerry Harvey confirmed the decision on Thursday but insists it is a case of moving on to a different sport rather than anything to do with the state of Rugby Australia.

“What we do is, we do whatever sport for a while; we don’t necessarily hang on to it forever,” Harvey told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“So we move around on different sports so we’re very heavy into sport advertising that we don’t necessarily stay with the one sport forever.

“You know we think ‘oh we’ve given that a good go, then we’ll go on to the next one’. In all cases we stop at some stage.”

Rugby Australia claim they are already searching for a new sponsor to fill the void whilst also thanking the organisation for their commitment.

“Rugby Australia (RA) wishes to thank Harvey Norman for its enthusiastic support of Rugby over the last three years. RA is currently in market and actively involved in discussions for a replacement,” an RA spokesperson told ESPN.

“Can’t lean on me”

Earlier this week McLennan was voted out of the role of chairman which he maintains is a divisive act and not good for the game. He also suggests RA would struggle without his business expertise.

“When a board goes through a process like that, they obviously want change,” he told 2GB.

“I understand it was a bit of a split vote, which is sort of interesting, so I think what’s happened is actually going to create more divisions within rugby, not less as they talk about unity.

“They can’t lean on me to continue to help on broadcast deals and the Rugby World Cups in Australia and all the other commercial matters and still expect me to contribute in that regard.”

READ MORE: ‘No time for them, mate’ – Ex-England boss Eddie Jones on his dislike for the other Home Nations