Rugby Australia aiming to resume season in July
SYDNEY Rugby Australia They have laid out plans for the return of professional gaming to the government and expect players to re-train next month for games in July, according to the interim CEO. Rob Clarke he said Thursday.
Rugby at all levels was indefinitely suspended in March when the government implemented strict social distancing measures, but with the number of new COVID-19 Cases slowing to a trickle have high hopes that restrictions will be relaxed soon.
Clarke was appointed as a temporary replacement for Raelene Castle on Wednesday and has high ambitions for his short stay on the job, including the possible blocking of a broadcast deal for years to come.
That would be a remarkable achievement for an interim CEO who made it clear that he doesn't want the job permanently and that he went a long way toward easing a financial crisis in RA triggered only in part by the closure of the coronavirus.
However, his first priority was clearly to launch some form of professional competition to satisfy the existing transmission agreement and obtain much-needed funds that flow into the coffers.
There is much to do, the game has gone through a very, very challenging period. The first item on the agenda is to make us play rugby around the country again, he told reporters.
On a professional level, our plans have been submitted to the government for approval and, if the restrictions are lifted, as we hope they will be in the next week or so, our goal would be to play in July with training starting in June.
Clarke said he was still understanding the full extent of RA's financial woes, but was confident that a World Rugby rescue package for A $ 17 million ($ 10.91 million) would be on the way soon.
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Clearly, the game is not in great financial shape. I'm sure World Rugby's money is safe and that ... goes a long way towards easing some immediate financial pressures, he said.
In the long term, RA's financial health calls for a new transmission deal by 2021, and Clarke said it was feasible that he could negotiate it before giving way to a permanent CEO. It would be brave to say it will be (done), but I'm going to give it a real shot. We have a lot of work to do in a relatively short time, he added.
Clarke said the resumption plans had to have built-in flexibility to deal with restrictions that may still be in place in the country's various states.
With New Zealand Rugby set to get the green light to resume competition next Monday, Clarke said some sort of trans-Tasman Sea competition would also be considered.
Overall, though, his message was one of hope that three or more years of turmoil at Rugby Australia might soon be behind the organization.
It is a new day, the past is the past and I don't think there is any advantage in the past, he said.