Rugby Australia will investigate forming a new national club competition, but won’t settle on a format until the next broadcasting rights deal is signed.

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RA revealed the strategy after a News Corp Australia report claimed a two-division national club competition could be part of the ‘whole of rugby’ package to be presented to broadcasters.

“Rugby Australia wishes to confirm that it has investigated the establishment of a national club competition ahead of its media rights negotiations,” RA said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“However the final competition format will not be determined until further consultation with the successful broadcaster, the state and territory member unions, and the clubs.”

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Fox Sports has held the rights to the majority of major Australian rugby content since the professional era started in 1996, heralded by the introduction of the Tri-Nations and Super Rugby tournaments.

Castle remains confident Fox Sports hasn’t walked away and expects the broadcaster to bid for TV rights next month.

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Castle is taking rugby’s broadcast rights to market for the first time since rugby went professional in 1996, in a move that will have a huge impact on the game’s future.

It was reported Fox Sports had ended their 25-year relationship with the code after RA rejected their offer for the rights package from 2021 to 2025.

But Castle is confident the pay-TV company will come back to the table.

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“We went through a negotiating process with them (Fox Sports) through their exclusive negotiating period,” Castle said.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t get to a place we were both comfortable with. So now we’re in tender and we would expect that as a market process they would step into that process.”

RA chairman Cameron Clyne and vice-chairman Brett Robinson will stand down from the board on March 30 and former Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill believes the new board shouldn’t inherit their TV deal.

Castle confirmed Clyne would continue to work on broadcast negotiations before he departs and said she didn’t think O’Neill’s comments were fair.

“This is a decision that is about generating the most financially beneficial outcome we can for the game,” Castle told reporters at the Super W launch.

AAP

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