Super Rugby players back Rugby AU's trans-Tasman deadline

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Super Rugby players have backed Rugby Australia's move to give New Zealand a deadline on their potential involvement in a trans-Tasman competition for 2021.

Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke on Monday unveiled the organisation's offerings for broadcasters for 2021-2025, which had options for a 10-team trans-Tasman competition or a more Australian-focused product, as well as a State of Origin-style State of Union series between Queensland and New South Wales and a Champions League type Super Eight series.

The deadline for potential broadcasters to respond is September 4 and that is the timeline Clarke set down as "D Day" for the Kiwis to declare their position.

Last month, New Zealand Rugby gave Australia the option of entering an expression of interest in their ideal competition, an 8-10 team tournament with five New Zealand teams and as many as four Australian teams or as few as two.

Clarke and Rugby AU chairman Hamish McLennan have been vocal about their commitment to keeping five professional Australian teams, whether that's in a trans-Tasman or more domestic competition.


Wallabies and Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese said on Tuesday that September 4 deadline was really important for players after an incredibly turbulent 2020.

"Many of us players in Australia are not too sure about what the future's going to hold," he said.

"So having this kind of plan, having a (set) date, is huge and it's big ups to the RA and the board putting plans ahead so then we can lock in our future.

"Our life span as footy players is not very long so having that future here in Australian rugby is huge for us players who want to stay here and hopefully for future Wallabies who want to stay in Australia."

Fellow Super Rugby front rower, Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes said looming clarity on the situation was important.

"Clarity's massive for us as players," he said.

"We're focused on the current competition being Super Rugby AU and that's where our minds are at at the moment.

"To have a bit of certainty around where the game's going is great.

"I think it's good to be able to push the Kiwis along to make a decision, regardless of which direction they go."

Reds backrower Angus Scott-Young said he liked the idea of a trans-Tasman competition but ultimately having certainty on next season was important to players.

"I think now is the time to innovate with those sort of things, especially with the broadcast negotiations going on," he said.

"I think it's awesome to differentiate the game and make the game more exciting for viewers.

"I love the idea of a trans-Tasman competition, I think that'd be awesome because looking at the quality of their Super Rugby tournament down there, it's been unreal and joining that with the Super Rugby AU would be a perfect mix.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens, they've given them that deadline so we'll see what happens then."

Scott-Young also said a proposed State of Union series between Queensland and New South Wales would add "excitement" for the code.

"I think it's pretty exciting," he said.

"State of Origin's the gem of rugby league, I think we could translate that to a union context and I think it could generate some excitement, which I think is well-needed with the state of union.

"You've had a tough time with COVID in the past and I think any new innovation we can really bring to entice broadcasters is awesome."

The Reds take on the Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday August 15, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.

The Waratahs take on the Force at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday August 14, kicking off at 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Fxotel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.