Wallabies legend Tim Horan presented his five-point plan to save Australian rugby as the stalemate between Rugby Australia and the players’ association over wage negotiations continues.
The two sides again failed to reach an agreement after the crisis talks on Saturday, raising fears that the struggling Super Rugby clubs will follow through on threats to resign.
RA powerbrokers, including besieged chairman and chief executive officer Raelene Castle, have met with RUPA officials to discuss the extent of player pay cuts following the suspension of Super Rugby due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although there was no resolution to the fortnightly saga, the governing body emerged from optimistic relations that a compromise could be found before the end of Easter.
“Rugby Australia believes progress has been made and the two sides will continue negotiations in good faith for the good of the game,” said RA in a statement.
“The meeting was finalized early in the afternoon and the two sides moved away to reflect on their position in anticipation of further talks over the Easter weekend.
“Rugby Australia is doing everything it can to achieve a result that will provide short-term financial certainty and allow football to emerge from this global health and economic crisis and continue to serve 900 and more rugby clubs in communities Across the country.”
Saturday’s discussions were postponed from Thursday due to an RA director being ill.
RA had asked players to take a 65% pay cut until the end of September, but that proposal was rejected by the RUPA last week when Castle herself only accepted a 50% cut.
Castle has reportedly since accepted a 65% cut in salary over $ 800,000, saying “it’s the right thing to do.”
But when players were ready to take a punch in the pocket during the shutdown of COVID-19, they wondered why their financial sacrifices should last six months when Super Rugby could resume well before that.
Last week, the cash-strapped governing body cut its non-player workforce by 75% after announcing a loss of $ 9.4 million in 2019 and faces a catastrophic deficit of $ 120 million if none Super Rugby or Test is not played this year.
Horan says “for Australian rugby to advance”, RA and RUPA must first settle their wage dispute.
The two-time World Cup winner turned to Twitter to recommend that, second, Rugby Australia should apply for a loan from the Australian government in order to get out of the financial jeopardy.
Third, he wants a 10 to 12 week national competition featuring the NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels as well as Super Rugby rejects Western Force and Japan-based Sunwolves.
Horan also proposes to relaunch Castle’s broadcast negotiations after RA rejected Foxtel to now “test the market” on TV rights and was therefore unable to find a new broadcast partner.
As an avid rugby lover, they suggest Australia seek the long term and exploit the lucrative Asian market for the long term rather than persist in aligning itself with South Africa and Argentina and their unfavorable time zones.
“Super Rugby will be very different over the next five years,” he said on Fox Sports.
“I think it probably has to be an Asia-Pacific – Australia, New Zealand type model and allow Japan to stay in the model.
“Then you look at Fiji, Samoa, Tonga.”