Rugby Australia could lose out on over $1 million after embarrassing contract error

Colin Newboult
Australia taking on France in a 2023 Rugby World Cup warm-up.

Australia taking on France in a 2023 Rugby World Cup warm-up.

A bad few months for Rugby Australia may get worse as the governing attempts to recoup more than $1 million from the French Rugby Federation.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, RA believe they are owed money following their Rugby World Cup warm-up clash with Les Bleus which took place on August 27.

The match was arranged in 2021 after Hamish McLennan met with then FFR president Bernard Laporte.

Deal not in writing

A deal was agreed, with French rugby committed to paying AUS$1.7 million to RA, but the duo only shook hands on the matter, rather than writing out a formal contract.

“Our conversations with FFR are continuing on this matter – it is not finalised,” RA chief executive Phil Waugh said in a statement.

“When a new hierarchy comes into place – as at FFR – it sometimes creates a need to re-engage, which we have done. We are working constructively with the new leadership of FFR to finalise the pre-RWC match fee.

“The new chair of the FFR, Mr Florian Grill, has been heavily engaged in these discussions – we are looking forward to finalising the payment and continuing our strong relationship with the FFR.”

Laporte resigned in January after being convicted of corruption with Florian Grill elected as the new president in June.

Grill then stated in the days leading up to the match that there had only been a verbal agreement over the fee.

“On the strength of the words of the Australian leaders, we have discovered an oral agreement for a sum of the order of one million euros or a little less,” Grill told Midi Olympique in August.

“The Australian federation therefore wrote to us to collect this sum, plus a percentage on the TV rights. An agreement which would therefore have been given at the time of the old governance. Obviously, it hadn’t been budgeted for.”

Shock

Rugby Australia were nevertheless surprised that less than AUS$100,000 had been deposited by the French Rugby Federation, according to the Herald.

It sums up what has been a dreadful year for the governing body, with the Wallabies exiting the Rugby World Cup at the pool stages.

They then saw head coach Eddie Jones, who had replaced the sacked Dave Rennie in January, resign 10 months into his five-year contract.

That put McLennan under significant pressure after he played a key role in the hiring of Jones.

After six member unions sent a letter urging the chairman to step down, he was voted out last Sunday, with Daniel Herbert taking his place on an interim basis.

READ MORE: Rugby Australia find ‘best solution’ for rugby with $80m loan deal