Rugby Australia has gone to market with a 'whole of rugby' package for the next five-year broadcast media rights cycle.
For the first time the code will offer a package that includes content and competitions from across every level of the game from club rugby through to the Wallabies and Wallaroos, on top of the SANZAAR package of rights which includes Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said the strategy had been months in the making.
"We have created alignment across our competitions which has enabled us to go to market with a rights package encompassing all levels of the game, with the aim of expanding the reach of our competitions and growing the audiences for the sport across each level of the game," Castle said in a statement.
"We believe this strategy will lead to a significantly better outcome for fans.
"Importantly, our initial conversations in the broadcast market have confirmed that there is real interest in a 'whole of rugby' package of content."
Fox Sports has held the rights to the majority of major Australian rugby content since the professional era started in 1996, heralded by the introduction of the Tri-Nations and Super Rugby tournaments.
It was reported Fox Sports had ended their 25-year relationship with the code after RA rejected their offer for the rights package for the 2021 to 2025 time frame.
But Castle remained confident they would still bid for the rights, with the process expected to be concluded by mid-March.
Castle said the game’s stakeholders were united behind the strategy.
“We want to thank our state and territory member unions, particularly the Queensland and New South Wales Rugby Unions, as well as the Sydney Rugby Union and every club across the Shute Shield and Hospital Challenge Cup competitions for their support of this vision for the game,” she said.
Optus and Network Ten are believed to be other parties interested in securing rugby content.