Sydney - Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver has warned top players they
will have to accept smaller contracts to play for the Wallabies due to
the code's worrying financial situation.
According to the stuff.co.nz website, and Pulver has also revealed the loss of almost A$19 million over
the past two years won't be off-set as much as hoped by the upcoming
British and Irish Lions tour.
Lions tours have generally been huge money-spinners for Australian
rugby but next month's visit isn't about to bring the windfall that was
''Sadly there is not as much money coming in from the Lions tour
this year as we would have wanted because of a quite difficult
sponsorship market,'' Pulver said in an interview with the ESPNscrum
''Historically we have had these periodic windfalls. Hosting the
2003 Rugby World Cup, and a ton of money came in. Every 12 years you
have a British and Irish Lions tour and a ton of money comes in.
''Australian rugby has pretty much survived on major windfalls that have covered losses until the next windfall comes in.''
He also warned Australia could not realistically be expected to host
another World Cup until 2031 at the earliest, but more likely not until
''So our next windfall being 12 years away does worry me,'' he said.
Pulver admitted he was concerned by the code's financial health and
felt top-line players would have to cop reduced salaries to play for the
Wallabies for the good of the game.
The ARU and Super Rugby franchises struggle mostly to keep top
players from taking more lucrative deals in France and Japan, which in
turn prevent them from playing for Australia.
''The opportunity and the excitement associated with the Wallabies jersey should carry a lot of value,'' Pulver said.
''The lure, power and magnetism of that Wallabies jersey is significant.''
Pulver admitted Australian rugby had to do more than reduce player salaries if it was to get back in good financial shape.
''What I'm most concerned about is fan engagement,'' he said.
''It can be addressed, but turning around revenue is, on the one
hand, about winning more at the elite level when 95 percent of your
revenue comes from Super Rugby and the Wallabies, and it is also turning
the entertainment package around.
''Our rusted-on rugby fans have been slipping away from the game,
and we've got to get them back. We have a fair bit of work to do.''