Push back for IPR

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Organisers of a WA rugby rally have postponed a planned event as negotiations stall over the introduction of Andrew Forrest’s Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship.

Forrest’s competition was seemingly gaining momentum, recently endorsed by Asia Rugby, and the group had planned to present to World Rugby, but now former Force skipper Matt Hodgson says ‘unreasonable demands’ from Rugby Australia have forced a slowdown.

They had planned to hold an event on December 10, announcing more details of the competition, slated to be held at the same time as Super Rugby in 2019, but cited setbacks from Rugby Australia as the reason for the delay.

A post on the event page, on behalf of Hodgson on Monday night confirmed the gathering was being pushed back until the start of 2018, with no specific date set down.

Hodgson pointed the finger at Australia’s governing body in a lengthy explanation for the delay.

The IPR has been endorsed by the Asia Rugby council. Photo: Getty Images“We have now hit a major road block with Rugby Australia in relation to the endorsement of the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship,” he wrote.

“We are continuing negotiations, but the current Rugby Australia position is so uncommercial and unreasonable that it ensures the failure of the IPRC before it even starts.

“We have been trying to meet with the Chair of the Rugby Australia working group but he is unavailable till next week even at this critical time.

“Rugby Australia’s demands include money to support East coast based programs rather than supporting the WA community, even as they are crippling our local rugby infrastructure.

“We will not be sending any more money over east, our money will remain for our people and to grow our game in Western Australia.”

There are still a number of question marks over the competition, with Test eligibility for Australian players in the participating teams unclear, as a number of high-profile former Force players declare their Super Rugby future.

Issues are not simply coming from the national body, though, with Queensland and New South Wales believed to be concerned about the impact the competition may have on their club talent pool.

These situations would likely need to be determined on an individual basis, between the IPR and the states.

The ACT are believed to be keen to learn more about any potential commercial benefits of the competition that could flow on to the state unions.

Rugby Australia’s board has its final meeting of the year on December 18.

The news comes amid reports that ASIC is reviewing evidence submitted in a senate inquiry into Australian rugby, determining whether to investigate Rugby Australia over the sale of the Melbourne Rebels in August.