Union rejects axing of Australian franchise

Date published: February 16 2017

The Rugby Union Player’s Association (RUPA) of Australia has urged the ARU to keep all of it’s Super Rugby franchises.

After a shrinking interest in Super Rugby after the new format was introduced of 18 teams, a SANZAAR Executive Committee meeting will take place next month to discuss the future of Super Rugby and the axing of an Australian and South African franchise is on the cards, with the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels in the line of fire.

RUPA have thrown their support behind the notion that the ARU should keep all of it’s franchises to build the sport.

“There is no denying that the current 18-team model has posed challenges that are real and which merit the consideration of alternatives. The breadth of time zones, the lack of tribalism, and fewer home fixtures for each team to commercialise has perpetuated the economic pressure that the new broadcast deal was hoped to eliminate,” said RUPA CEO Ross Xenos in a statement.

“Professional Rugby is the economic engine of the game in Australia and we need more local content, not less, generating a larger revenue base to reinvest into premier and community Rugby. The ARU has a vision to ‘inspire all Australians’ but there is nothing inspirational for any of the game’s stakeholders in voluntarily going backwards.”

RUPA President Dean Mumm re-iterated the union’s statements.

“The players are engaged in ensuring that any new competition model genuinely remedies the current competition’s strategic failings and delivers more relevant, local derbies for Australian Rugby fans to enjoy,” Mumm said.

“Other codes in this country are growing their domestic competitions and fixtures at significant pace, and we simply can’t do the opposite in an attempt to shrink our way to success.

“It is vital that we preserve all opportunities for players and coaches to enter the professional Rugby pathway all across the country; the game needs to inspire the next generation to play Rugby and a successful national shopfront is paramount to that effort. Maximising elite opportunities for players and enhancing our state programs is the best strategy to fight the international player drain and develop our depth for Super Rugby and Wallaby competitiveness.

“By retaining five teams throughout the remainder of the current broadcast agreement, we allow time for a robust professional competition to be mapped out, and for World Rugby global season discussions to conclude, in order to develop a highly competitive and lucrative model to support Australian Rugby for all.”