NZ Herald

The prospect of trans-Tasman rugby battles including Bledisloe Cup tests resuming this year have received another boost.

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Rugby Australia’s under-pressure chief executive Raelene Castle says in a Sydney Morning Herald report that there are “consistent discussions” with her New Zealand counterparts.

Like all sports, rugby faces an uncertain future because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Castle’s three-point plan to keep ailing Australian rugby afloat appears to include a quick return to transtasman matches.

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This would probably require a change to quarantine restrictions but Castle appeared hopeful of the Wallabies and All Blacks resuming battle.

The SMH reported that “encouraging progress in containing the pandemic in Australia and New Zealand has given weight to the theory that trans-Tasman club matches and Bledisloe Tests will be played later this year”.

Castle was reported as saying: “That’s certainly one of the models that we are working through at the moment.

“We remain in consistent discussions with New Zealand because, obviously, that makes a lot of sense.

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“The indications we’re getting with government agencies is that the sequence of opening up (borders) is likely to be domestic first, then into trans-Tasman, then into Asia Pacific, so we have a number of different scenarios to look at and that is currently one of them.”

The full force of the pandemic struck just as RA was about to sign a big broadcasting deal with Optus.

Castle is hopeful a new deal and World Rugby loans of $16m will come to her sport’s rescue. She believes negotiations wth Optus can resume before the end of the financial year.

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“Castle must also find a way to put a product back on field to ensure Foxtel and Channel Ten have no reason to pull any future payments,” the SMH reported, citing the trans-Tasman fixtures.

Foxtel, Channel Ten and BSkyB signed a five year $285m deal with RA Australia in 2015. But the predicted price of any new deal had already dropped significantly before the virus struck.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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