Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore demands greater voice for Super Rugby clubs

Greater say: Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore wants the Australian Rugby Union to consult more often with its stakeholders. Photo: SuppliedThe boss of Australia’s most powerful province is demanding a louder voice for Super Rugby clubs on the future of the 18-team competition.
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At the same time as a major rift over funding threatens to bring down the Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant, Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore has called on the Australian Rugby Union to consult more often with its stakeholders, who are forced to play in the cumbersome Super Rugby competition.

Hore did not specify how this would take place, but presumably a permanent spot on the SANZAAR executive committee, which is comprised of the chief executives and chairmen of the four member nations, would be the place to start.

Under the current model, the Super Rugby clubs are denied a formal presence at the decision-making table, leaving the national unions to make decisions on their behalf.

The ARU funds each province using the proceeds of its five-yearly broadcast deal, but the provinces themselves come up with the shortfall. Hore said he wanted to challenge the widely-held belief here that only the Wallabies can make the game any money, but needed the power to change the Waratahs’ off-field circumstances.

“I think our union is still looking at it as international rugby being the be-all and end-all, where I think the rest of the world has moved on a bit in their mentality,” he said.

“They know we can get money in to feed our game through professional rugby and also through the international game. I think there’s an opportunity there for us to collaborate far more effectively and look at our governance model – we’ve said this quite openly – to make sure that we can continue to grow the competition.”

His comments come at a critical juncture for professional rugby in the southern hemisphere. Super Rugby and its Test-level iteration, the Rugby Championship, command top dollar from European and overseas broadcasters, but at a domestic level within Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the 15 Super Rugby franchises are struggling to turn a profit, hampered by poor crowds and an interrupted season.

The competition is the subject of a 10-year review, which will be finalised next month. Hore, who ran Ospreys in Wales before he moved to the Waratahs, is worried that he and his counterparts have no say on the strategic future of the businesses they run.

He urged the ARU and SANZAAR to look to the Pro12 and the English Premiership, where salary cap growth has doubled in a four-year period to more than $8 million per club, to chart the way forward.

“In France [the Top 14] the clubs basically run the competition and the union stays out of their affairs and vice versa. In England [Premiership Rugby] it’s closer, they have a pretty solid commercial agreement between the two parties and although the relationship is tense, by and large it works,” Hore said.

“The Pro12 [Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy] are a little bit different again. On their board they have one club/provincial representative, representing the provinces or regions of the country, and they have one union representative. Between the parties, they’re able to figure out what is what.

“We’re not that far off the money at the moment, with regard to the number of games played and the revenue we generate, but the simple fact is they have a lot more content over there and they’re working a lot closer together with the unions.”

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