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Rugby: Merger plan to form eastern seaboard powerhouse

Date

Georgina Robinson, Chris Dutton, David Polkinghorne

The Waratahs, Reds and Rebels are considering merging their operations to form an eastern seaboard rugby powerhouse under a radical proposal to be put before the ARU board at the end of the month.

In what could be the biggest reform to the structure of rugby in Australia since the game turned professional, the three east coast provinces would retain their independence but report to a head of Super Rugby, who would in turn be answerable to ARU boss Bill Pulver.

The Brumbies and Force are understood to have opted out of the proposed collaboration at this stage but have not ruled out joining the new entity in the future.

The Brumbies are still searching for a new chief executive but the club is expected to finalise its decision any day.

The Brumbies are down to the final candidates and hope to have a new boss before the Super Rugby season kicks off on February 22.

In the eastern seaboard plan, NSW, Queensland and Melbourne would hand over limited control to the ARU but retain ownership of assets.

Fairfax Media understands the proposal, while still in the very early stages of negotiations, aims to pool the three unions' assets and create a bigger, more powerful player in the Australian sporting landscape.

It would also bring Australia a step closer to the centralised model used in New Zealand, where the five Super Rugby teams maintain control over their own administrative and membership operations but cede control to the NZ Rugby Union on issues including high performance.

The concept is understood to be driven by Pulver, using the commercial success of the Queensland Reds - who are targeting 50,000 members by the end of the year - as a template for the new entity.

QRU chief executive Jim Carmichael is said to be a front-runner to head up the new operation if it gets off the ground.

Pulver would not comment on details of the proposal but said the ARU met regularly with Super Rugby bosses to talk through options for the future.

''I have made no secret of our financial challenges at an administrative level,'' he said. ''Doing nothing is not an option and our discussions within the Australian rugby community will continue.''

The ARU board will meet next on February 24 and it's understood the proposed east-coast collaboration is high on the agenda.

The ARU already controls the Rebels, taking the Melbourne club under its control last year after founding backer Harold Mitchell cut off his funding. But NSW and Queensland, the two biggest rugby markets in the country, are said to favour the proposal.

Talk of further centralising the Australian Super Rugby teams has been on the agenda for some time against a backdrop of difficult financial circumstances.

The cash-strapped ARU has, among other measures, imposed a controversial $200 levy on every junior team and senior club in the country.

The governing body, which largely props up the Super Rugby clubs but exerts no control over their operations, finished with a $10 million surplus last year despite bringing in $140 million in revenue.

That revenue is projected to drop to $100 million this year and $80 million next year due to the World Cup.

Wallabies players have already agreed to have their match fees slashed from $14,000 per Test to $10,000.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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