Oz back NZ in RWC cost row

2011-09-29 07:33

Wellington - Australia on Thursday backed New Zealand's call for changes to international rugby financing, but stopped short of following the All Blacks' threat to boycott the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive John O'Neill described commercial arrangements surrounding the Rugby World Cup as "the elephant in the room", saying they forced major unions into the red every four years.

O'Neill said his New Zealand counterpart Steve Tew's criticisms of how the International Rugby Board (IRB) handled commercial issues arising from the tournament were "real, substantial and, importantly, not new".

"As Steve Tew correctly pointed out, the current economic model is unsustainable and unacceptable," he said.

"We look to the IRB to resolve these issues urgently because, as a national union, the ARU is unable to continue making these significant losses every four years."

Tew said this week that current arrangements penalised major unions because Test schedules were curtailed in World Cup years - costing TV revenues and gate receipts - and teams could not promote their sponsors at the tournament.

He said competing at the 2011 World Cup had put a NZ$13 million dent in the New Zealand Rugby Union's coffers and raised the prospect of pulling the All Blacks from the 2015 tournament if no solution was found.

O'Neill did not go that far, but said the IRB needed to recognise that the major unions, or tier one nations, underpinned the commercial success of the Rugby World Cup.

He said the ARU revenues were down A$16 million this year because of the World Cup and the combined figure for all tier one nations was 48 million pounds ($75 million).

"(This) impacts on ARU's ability to promote and develop the game in our country and our region," he said, adding that he hoped an IRB review scheduled for completion in May next year would fix the problem.

O'Neill said the World Cup should be rescheduled so it did not clash with the southern hemisphere's Tri-Nations and Super Rugby competitions or the Six Nations and European Cup in the north.

International Rugby Players' Association executive director Rob Nichol also backed Tew's criticism but said the IRB and national unions needed to consult with players about any changes.

"They risk coming up with their model in May 2012 and the players saying, 'no we don't like that'," he told the Dominion Post newspaper.

Nichol said he submitted a revenue-sharing proposal to the IRB before the tournament but the sport's governing body rejected it and threatened a player lock-out unless his organisation dropped the scheme.

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu has described the possibility of a New Zealand boycott in 2015 as "devastating" but assistant coach Steve Hansen said Thursday that the team would support Tew if it came to the crunch.

"If that was what was deemed to be the right thing to help the game, then that's what you do," he told reporters.

The New Zealand Herald lambasted Tew for "throwing a shroud of negativity" over the tournament and dismissed the idea the All Blacks would not travel to England in 2015.

"That proposition is absurd, and so too is the timing and much of the tenor of Mr Tew's remarks," it said in an editorial.

Writing on Fairfax's news website, rugby columnist Marc Hinton said Tew had initiated a "high-stakes game of bluff" with the IRB and may have painted himself into a corner if he did not get what he wanted.

"If the IRB refuses to accede to his demands, or at least make major concessions, Tew looks weak and toothless if he does not make good on his threat," Hinton wrote.


  • OutbackJack - 2011-09-29 07:42

    IRB is the new FIFA. A money grabbing machine that is corrupt to the core.

      letsee - 2011-09-29 11:42

      Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said. Well said.....................

      Willyza - 2011-09-29 12:16

      Welcome to the new world of Sport,It wont get any better ?

  • jay - 2011-09-29 07:50

    Rugby is fast becoming one of the sports that will have a massive support from the momentary "non-rugby nations". e.g Germany. WIth this knowledge and the TV powers behind this new up-and-coming money machine, the IRB will need to give in to the demands of the various rugby boards. There may still be enough time to stop a situation that is like FIFA or IOC. Make a plan...

  • Angelo Zachariades - 2011-09-29 07:53

    Surely Julius Malema is behind this plan - Destabilisation / divide and rule is the modus operandi of the ANCYL - or was it the Nats / AWB.

  • OZNOB - 2011-09-29 07:54

    obvously money is talking so loud that the irb cannot hear anyone else

  • McDaNife - 2011-09-29 08:00

    In South Africa we do it better with some change left, learn from us. But rugby being rugby cannot draw the attention of the world like soccer does.

      Lionel - 2011-09-29 09:14

      Believe me that SA is going to feel the debt burden of the SWC in three to four years after the tournament as this has been the experience of all other countries that have hosted a world cup or olympic games.Only one host nation has ever made a profit and that was Australia hosting the 2000 Olympic Games and I am not talking about the governing sporting body, who always make huge profits i.e. FIFA, IRB, ICC and IOC.

      Kevin - 2011-09-29 09:44

      McDaNife-You and your kids will be paying for the World cup stadiums for the next 40 years

  • aman - 2011-09-29 08:08

    I read a lot of the crap posted by both SA and New Zealand supporters yesterday and although entertaining, crap it was. The fact is that if any of the major unions are not represented in the World Cup, it can hardly be called that. Who elects the IRB? I would think that the representatives from the rugby playing nations do that. Surely they can be replaced?

  • jabski - 2011-09-29 08:40

    the gravy train in sport chugs along. if anyone would care to check out the ticket prices for the debacle in NZ they would be truly shocked. it is an absolute scam. next they will be selling tickets on ebay to the highest bidder from the off. moneymen have killed sport but instead of boycotting these vultures they know our loyalty is with our team and feed off us every day as we cannot resist we could stop this immediately en masse but as we are human beings, we arent capable of thinking outside the box

  • Keith3663 - 2011-09-29 08:45

    Planning for the future ... Steve Tew is a wise man, AB's to choke again in 2011 and he just wants to save them the embarrassment in 2015!

      aman - 2011-09-29 09:06

      Do you have anything sensible to add?

  • JimbOb - 2011-09-29 08:52

    Here we go again with the song... and a 1, a 2, a 1 2 3... It's all about the money, money, money, We just want more money, money, money, We don't care about the world cup, We wanna make a quick buck! It's not about the winning, winning, winning, It's all about more ching, cha-ching..

  • Good Advice - 2011-09-29 09:23

    Could it be that the IRB are trying to take from the larger unions / countries and use it for development of the smaller unions / countries. I know this may seem unfair but will be great for the development of the sport? Will we ever know the facts? No. But as Aman said, if they collectively disagree, reelect a new panel...

      JDemons - 2011-09-29 23:02

      No, when the Namibians qualified for this WC their governing body approached the IRB for assistance to get the team to NZ as they didn't have the money, in the end the Namibian government had to front up the cash because the IRB rejected application for funding.

      Steven - 2011-09-30 07:50

      yea also the island teams had to hold raffles to fundraise for the RWC. And you still find all the miniow teams wanting help from the IRB. With all the money they are making...where is it going? English RFU? IRB parties?

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