- Publish Date
- Saturday, 3 December 2022, 11:05AM
By Nathan Limm
The future of Super Rugby Pacific has been secured until 2030, with New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia extending their joint venture agreement.
After a turbulent few months of squabbling between the nations, a broadcast revenue-sharing agreement has been reached until the end of 2025, as first reported by the Herald.
Both countries will head back to the negotiating table with broadcasters then.
The settlement will see the men’s format remain intact, with a combined women’s competition also in the works.
A new nine-person governing board will be established, featuring an independent chair, four independent directors and one representative from each union and each players’ association.
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said there is a mix of emotions at finally reaching a settlement.
“[It was] a long journey that had its frustrations and challenges, excitement about the future - the men’s and women’s game in the long term - and an element of relief because it’s a really important building block in our entire game.”
RA chief executive Andy Marinos said the deal is critical for Australia with a British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 and home World Cup looming in 2027.
“It just gives us that stability and platform we can build on. We know if we’re playing against the best in a high-performing environment it’s going to bode well for the Wallabies and for our clubs.”
RA had threatened to leave Super Rugby Pacific due to the revenue arrangement, in favour of forming their own domestic competition.
The unions have separate broadcasting deals which have seen RA glean $34 million and NZR $100 million.
RA wanted the money to instead be pooled and split evenly.
Robinson said NZR is providing RA with additional financial support which is understood to be increasing from the current $5 million figure, but he remained coy about the details of their new settlement.
“We’ve had an arrangement over the last couple of years. That’ll continue over the next year, maybe two.”
The tension between the unions escalated earlier in the year when RA chairman Hamish McLennan reportedly told his Kiwi counterpart Stewart Mitchell there was no guarantee they would remain in Super Rugby Pacific following 2023.
However, Marinos denies this was a ploy to extract more financial support from NZR.
“Hamish’s position has been quite clear. Having us protect Australian rugby as the chairman should and making sure we’re equal partners when we come to the table.”
Robinson is adamant their relationship is in a good place and said Covid travel restrictions hampered their ability to connect.
“That was a really challenging context to have these conversations in but as we got to spend more and more time together face-to-face and be in the same space having these conversations it felt like things were starting to move. We never really lost sight that we believed this was the right thing for the game.”
Marinos said their demands for a fairer revenue agreement did not represent a major breakdown in the relationship between the nations.
“Everyone’s always going to take a position when you’re going through a negotiation and you’re not always going to see things the same way. But we’ve known we wanted to get a competition structure up and running. We’re all rugby people and we all know what’s best for both our unions.”
An integrated women’s competition is also set to be created, combining Super Rugby Aupiki and Australia’s Super W.
While New Zealand’s women’s competition is locked in for next year, Robinson said 2024 could be on the cards.
“We’ve certainly got an appetite to progress into that as soon as we can. But we respect Australia’s position on that to maybe take a little more time.
“I think this year at a minimum we could be in a situation to look at a crossover finals series later in the year after Aupiki.”
Marinos said they have not been prescriptive on the timeframe but will look to get things moving as soon as possible.
“We have loosely spoken about 2024 but if there’s an opportunity to do something earlier than that, we’ll certainly look at that in terms of getting some crossover games.”
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