New South Wales Rugby Union and Waratahs chairman Roger Davis believes chopping a Super Rugby team is the right decision because it will give NSW the slice of revenue pie they deserve to put into grassroots.
While the Waratahs were never in any danger of being culled from Super Rugby next year, the ongoing uncertainty has affected the code, according to Davis.
He feels for the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels, who are in a two-horse race competing for Super Rugby survival, but agreed with the n Rugby Union’s decision to move forward with four teams.
“Given the current circumstances ??? I don’t think we can support five sides in this country and be competitive,” Davis told Fairfax Media. “There’s a lot of external factors affecting that. The decision to reduce from four to five, as painful as it may be, is the right decision.
“Even Queensland and NSW, who weren’t in the spotlight for this, it’s affected our game. It’s affected attendances and uncertainty is a very poor bedfellow. It has wide-ranging implications. If we can get decisions made sooner rather than later that will be terrific.”
The ARU say the money they save will be reinvested in grassroots rugby in the coming years.
Davis said the bulk of that money should be given to NSW and Queensland given they are the heartbeat of rugby in and produce the majority of Wallabies players.
“I’m unequivocally selfish in this,” Davis said. “Focusing on NSW and my colleagues to the north in Queensland, we’ve got 80 per cent of the players, 80 per cent of the Super players, they all come from NSW and Queensland and that’s there we believe any community funding should be directed.
“Community is a broad church and the devil’s in the detail as to exactly how much we’re going to get, who has the authority to allocate it and where it’s allocated.”
Davis and Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore have been vocal supporters of a Super Rugby commission, whereby clubs would have a greater say in how the competition is structured.
The lingering tension between Super Rugby clubs and the ARU over the fact the national body is in charge of their future is further evidence, David believes, why a commission should be established.
“The big problem the Super sides have is we’re not part of this discussion,” Davis said. “We’re not jury, we’re not judge, we find out once a decision has been made. None of the Super sides have been able to participate in the discussions across the 18 sides about the future structure of the game.
“Personally, I find that from a governance perspective disappointing.
“It’s our businesses, we’re the ones that have the balance sheet here. We have no say in the way it’s structured. We wake up in the morning, we’re given our schedule, we’re given our competition, we’re told who we’re going to play. It makes it really very difficult. That’s a frustration.”
Asked about the ARU’s handling of the situation, in terms of the delays and timing in the season, Davis was comfortable with the process given the complexities associated with being a SANZAAR member.
“This is an exceedingly complicated process given the way SANZAAR is constituted, given the media and TV obligations that exist and the number of parties,” Davis said. “[Chairman] Cameron Clyne’s decision to extend the negotiation period with the Rebels and the Force is fair. It comes at a cost and that is an extended delay.
“It’s easy to comment from the back seat but they have spent an enormous amount of time trying to get to this stage.
“We’re profitable. There’s a lesson in that as well; if you are financially strong and you do have a strong core base, then you will survive.”