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Rennie's social media polling figures

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Rennie's social media polling figures released by Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia has played down one of its most tumultuous years, preferring to laud the fact the majority of its social media followers approved of the new Wallabies coach – Dave Rennie.

The peak body in Australia issued a statement following its final board meeting of the year in Sydney on Monday but it barely touched on the long-running Israel Folau saga.

Last Wednesday Rugby Australia apologised to and reached a settlement with Folau over his sacking, following an Instagram post which said “hell awaits” gay people.

Chief executive Raelene Castle said the settlement amount was confidential but described reports – some of which were as high as $8 million – as “wildly inaccurate”.

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In Monday’s statement RA chairman Cameron Clyne only mentioned the Folau issue and potential hurdles with a new pay television deal in the last three paragraphs of the 528-word statement.

Rugby Australia Chairman, Cameron Clyne said: “The Rugby World Cup in Japan was enjoyed over 40,000 Australian travellers – second only behind English fans as the most to attend the tournament. The World Cup also gave Australian Rugby its highest representation of match officials since 2003 with both Angus Gardner and Nic Berry taking the whistle.

“The hard work has already begun for the Wallabies as we build towards France 2023, and we are excited for the future after securing Dave Rennie as the new Wallabies Head Coach.

“It was encouraging to see the Rugby community embrace Dave’s appointment with 86% of Facebook followers and 70% of Instagram followers reacting positively to the news last month.

Clyne highlighted positive developments in player contracting with a host of talented youngsters signing on with Australian Rugby, and continued participation growth across each format.

“The Junior Wallabies came within a point of bringing home the Under 20’s World Cup, and then our Schools & Under 18s team completed an undefeated tour of New Zealand. Importantly, the vast majority of these young stars of the future have been secured in our game long term,” he said.

“The Buildcorp Wallaroos played more Tests than ever before this year and against this backdrop, women’s participation experienced double-digit growth for the third consecutive year.

“As we look towards the 2020 Olympic Games the sevens format is continuing to grow in popularity, with 41 spring and summer competitions kicking off across the country over the past two months.

“Over 30 clubs ran our new Get into Rugby program in clubs in 2019, introducing hundreds of new players of all ages to the game by giving them a sample of each of our three formats – fifteens, sevens and Touch 7s.”

Clyne also addressed recent media speculation surrounding the position of Chief Executive, Raelene Castle and the game’s current media rights negotiations.

“Raelene’s position is not in question and the Board is united behind the process undertaken with Israel Folau.

“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,” said Clyne.

– AAP/additional reporting RugbyPass

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Rennie's social media polling figures released by Rugby Australia