The Rogues Rant #237


Welcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby

You don’t have to be an economic expert to see that new Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke has a lot of work to do in order to keep Rugby viable in Australia. With the 2019 Annual Report still to be signed off by Auditors KPMG recent press articles paint a rather dour picture. RA had just $12M in the bank at December 31st with liabilities of $45M. Creditors are owed $20M with a legal bill for the Falou saga of $1M still to be paid. The expected $17M World Rugby Grant is not going to make much of an impact on the bottom line. On top of that with no income due to Coronavirus and no TV contract in place things are not looking good. Super Rugby cost RA $30.9M in 2019 and given the poor state of that competition surely we must go in a different direction from here. An expenditure of $20.5M in 2019 on contracted players can’t be sustainable going forward. One cost that must be increased in the years ahead is the paltry $4.3M spent on Community Rugby as this is the area from which the game can re-invent itself in the years to come. The first thing that Mr Clarke needs to do is to end all the political in-fighting and get all sections of the game from all corners of the country working in the same direction. Good Luck with that Mr Clarke.

No changes as of yet to the expected re start of Rugby around Australia. The IDRU Board is still hopeful of getting underway in June but it will be another couple of weeks before we get any real indication of the likelihood of playing at all in 2020. NZR are looking to have a domestic Super Rugby comp starting in the coming weeks when New Zealand go back to Level 2 restrictions. The five team comp will be played over 10 weeks and played in closed stadiums. I reckon that is another nail in the international Super Rugby Coffin.

Alan Jones has just announced his retirement from his long running Radio show. Could this be the first step in a plan for him to become the new Chairman of Rugby Australia? I hope not!

The longer restrictions continue regarding the Coronavirus the more difficult it is going to be for a start to the IDRU 2020 Premiership. I would suggest that the only way we can get underway is if all restrictions are lifted. If restrictions remain in place effectively restricting the number of people able to attend local matches it will be near impossible for clubs to be able to make the sort of financial commitment required to get through the season. Matches played at a closed venue without spectators would financially cripple clubs due to a complete lack of income that normally comes with home matches. A restriction of 100 people at any outdoor sporting event would mean that any three match fixture between clubs would have to be played without any spectators as well. The only restriction that would give us any chance of getting away would be 500 strong crowd allowance but even then such an impediment would have a considerable financial impact on all clubs. Given that it is not likely that restrictions on outdoor activities will be lifted anytime soon, I can’t see the 2020 IDRU Premiership going ahead at all.      

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.