Wallabies icon slams 'atrocious' Rugby Australia


Wallabies icon slams 'atrocious' Rugby Australia

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World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones has declared Rugby Australia "unbankable" and feels it's probably time the entire board stepped down.

Farr-Jones believes the coronavirus pandemic has merely brought RA's dire financial woes to a head and says the governing body only has itself to blame.

"In sport, your revenues come from three areas," he told Triple M radio on Saturday.

"Broadcasting is representative of about 40 or 50 per cent of anticipated revenues or budgeted revenues and then you've got sponsors chip in about a third and the balance is largely game day, which is bums on seats and merchandising and what have you.

"And I think in all those three areas in the last couple of years, rugby has managed the game atrociously."

One of the Wallabies' greatest players, Farr-Jones was particularly scathing at RA's botching of a new broadcast deal, which has left the code in Australia facing insolvency.

"Sadly, because we don't have a broadcasting deal, which the other codes do have, we are basically, in my opinion, unbankable," he said.

"The AFL went out and raised, I think it was, $600 million through banks. I mean, what a phenomenal situation because they've got this great broadcasting agreement that's in place.

"I think the NRL recently announced that they were going to give each club $2.5 million. That is because they're bankable.

"What are the future incomes of Rugby Australia look to? A hole in the donut."

Amid growing speculation that his 1991 World Cup-winning teammate Phil Kearns was eyeing the top job, Farr-Jones was asked if it was time for RA chief executive Raelene Castle – who also presided over last year's financially crippling Israel Folau saga – to step aside.

"I think the rugby community has lost confidence in the senior executives and the board of Rugby Australia. There's no doubt about that," he said.

"It hasn't been fantastic the last couple of years,

"Not only has the way we've played, be it the Super clubs or the disappointment of last year's World Cup in Japan.

"But it's really all aspects of the game … you look at the crowd numbers, for example."

Farr-Jones said, as part of its SANZAAR agreement with New Zealand's and South Africa's ruling bodies, it was RA's responsibility to guarantee the financial viability of Australia's five Super Rugby clubs.

And he's not surprised Castle and company have been holding out on meeting with the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) over the past week.

"If it wasn't for the participation fee that we would have got from last year's World Cup, which was an outstanding success in Japan, we'd be broke now," Farr-Jones said.

"That would be the only reserves we've got.

"I think the only reason Rugby Australia hasn't sat down with RUPA sooner and cut a deal is because then they'd be crystallising liabilities going forward, which they don't have income to pay for.

"That is an ongoing concern issue. If you're a board director, you basically have to look at voluntary administration.

"So that is the reason I think they've stalled on meeting with RUPA. That's why they cut 75 per cent of their staff last week. We just don't have the income going forward."

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