Despite Melbourne Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson saying on Friday that it is unlikely that the Sunwolves will participate in the competition due to international travel restrictions, interim RA boss Rob Clarke says there is still hope that the Japan-based franchise will be able to compete.
“We’re still in discussions with the Sunwolves and the Australian government on that,” Clarke told media on Saturday.
“As you can imagine it’s not a quick process trying to get clarity from certainly the government in the first instance and then the Sunwolves having to react to that to understand exactly what they can do and in what time frame, so we’re working diligently on it, but we don’t have a final answer.”
Similarly, Clarke said there is still work to be done to ensure the Western Force will join the four Australian Super Rugby clubs in the new league, although he remains confident the Perth side will feature in the competition.
An additional element of the league, which is due to kick-off on July 3 and run through until September 19, that needs to be finalised are broadcast arrangements, which have come under scrutiny in recent times as RA have battled to secure a television deal beyond this season.
Clarke said he is in negotiations with current broadcast partner Fox Sports about a new deal for both the 2021 campaign and the upcoming domestic league.
“That’s a number one priority for me and the business,” he said. “I’ve had very fruitful discussions with our current broadcast partner in Fox Sports this week about how the shape of the balance of this year looks.
“Those discussions will continue next week and I’m confident we’ll get some clarity within a week or two, given that we’re trying to kick off a Super Rugby season domestically on the third of July, time is of the essence.”
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