A 2020 Bledisloe Cup series is on the table while Australian Super Rugby teams could play in a makeshift trans-Tasman league later this year as Rugby Australia turns its focus towards a return to competition.
Australia’s professional rugby players agreed to an average 60 percent salary cut but have called for a complete review of the code in this country, after reaching a resolution on an interim pay deal on Monday.
RA chief executive Raelene Castle is now scheming a return to the field and the inclusion of New Zealand is an option, given that country’s similarly positive handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“That’s one of the models that we’ve worked through at the moment and we remain in consistent discussion with New Zealand because obviously it makes a lot of sense,” said Castle of the prospect of tests and Super Rugby games between the two countries later this year.
“The indications we’re getting from government agencies is that the sequence of opening up is likely to be domestic, then maybe trans-Tasman, then maybe Pacific and international.”
In accepting the hefty pay cuts, the Rugby Union Players Association called for “root and branch” reform of the code.
That’s despite both New Zealand and South Africa signing broadcast deals based on that premise and Rugby Australia’s broadcast future remaining up in the air.
“Governments might not let us deliver it; (unless they) open borders and allow teams to come in. We might not have any choice to review … what we can deliver into 2021,” she said.
“I can’t sit here today and tell you what it’s going to look like at the back end of 2020 or into 21, but there are a number of different models we continue to work with so that we can have options depending on what government decisions are made and also have options to talk to broadcasters about.”
In the meantime a proposed five-team domestic competition featuring the Western Force is expected to be postponed again after initially being put on hold until May 1.
“All the indications we are getting from Australia and New Zealand governments are that they’re very proud of the fact that they’ve managed to control this (virus) very well and limited the damage and loss of life and they’re not willing to open that up quickly to risk that they go backwards again,'” Castle said.
She said the internal cost cutting and likely financial support of World Rugby would ensure RA doesn’t enter voluntary administration amid the shutdown.
Castle said a full audit of their finances is expected to be completed soon and that there was “certainty around their cash position until the end of September”.
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