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Rugby Australia secure eight-figure loan after major sponsor walks

By AAP
Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh speaks to media. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Cash-strapped Rugby Australia has secured access to an $80 million line of credit over the next five years in its bid to pump more money into developing the floundering code.

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Just a day after losing Harvey Norman as a major sponsor in what presents a multi-million dollar blow, RA announced the $80 million loan agreement with Pacific Equity Partners.

RA had entertained the idea of private equity, but in the end decided to take on a huge loan knowing that the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and the 2027 (men’s) and 2029 (women’s) home World Cups would help pay off the debt.

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The news comes just days after Hamish McLennan quit as RA chairman after six member unions demanded his resignation.

Pressure on McLennan reached fever pitch following the recent World Cup, in which the Wallabies failed to make it out of the group stage for the first time.

McLennan’s role in appointing the since-departed Eddie Jones as coach played a key role in his downfall.

Former Wallaby Daniel Herbert has been appointed as McLennan’s replacement.

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RA say the $80 million loan will go towards critical areas of the game’s development, with high-performance integration, women’s rugby and community and pathways being areas of focus.

Chief executive Phil Waugh believes pursuing a debt capital path was the right decision for rugby in Australia and believes the injection of cash will help set the game up for the future.

“Given the visibility we have on revenues from the British and Irish Lions and World Cups, it became clear that debt capital was going to be the best solution for Rugby,” Waugh said in a statement.

“This does not compromise RA’s options down the road, which could include private equity investment.

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“This approach ensures that we retain 100 per cent of the commercial revenues from the game, that all capital raised will go into the game, and that RA controls its own direction during this next period of growth and development.”

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