Two of Australian Rugby’s most powerful figures say the governing body is committed to five Super Rugby franchises in the long term, as the code hopes to usher in a new era of unity.
The ARU announced its five-year strategic plan on Tuesday, focusing on building Rugby at all levels, introducing the code to more public schools and continuing to grow the women’s game.
The announcement of the plan, generated after consultation across the country came amid days of high level meetings, including the ARU AGM and CEOs’ meetings at ARU HQ.
ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said the marker of expansion success is still yet to be seen.
“The secret of any expansion is you’ve got to give it time - if we look in the future are more kids from WA playing for the Force and are more kids from Victoria playing for the Rebels?,” he said.
“That will be a real sign of the expansion being successful and they’re the metrics we need to keep watching."
With a number of Super Rugby franchises suffering financial struggles, former NAB boss Clyne said the ARU was willing to look at different options when it came to long-term viability.
“We’ve got to find a way and maybe continue looking at private ownership or maybe sharing more between the franchises,” he said.
“[We need to] find a way to make Super Rugby franchises more sustainable on their own.”
While Clyne said ideally Super Rugby franchises would be sustainable off their own steam but the ARU was willing to step in when needed.
Clyne said tension between the national and state bodies might never be fully assuaged but things were moving in the right direction.
“There’s always going to be a natural tension,” he said.
“Rugby has always had that between the state bodies and the governing body but I think people recognise that working together is going to produce a far better outcome.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver echoed Clyne’s comments and said the future was looking bright for the relationship between the unions.
“For the first time in a long time we have a collective view of what the future of the game looks like and a really healthy spirit of cooperation to achieve the right outcomes,” he said.
“We’re completely committed to the Force being a West Australian team and continuing to improve in terms of their performance on the paddock,” he said.
“And that’s the collaboration we’re talking about.
“All the chief executives are working together on how we deliver better outcomes and we’ll get there.”