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Rugby: Merger plan to form eastern seaboard powerhouse


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.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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