'Unbankable': Wallabies legend savages 'atrocious' Rugby Australia mess

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter
Nick Farr-Jones (pictured right) and Raelene Castle (pictured left). (Getty Images)

Wallabies legend Nick Farr-Jones has come out swinging at Rugby Australia after labelling the sport’s position as an ‘unbankable’ mess with the coronavirus pandemic bringing forward the code’s financial woes.

Rugby Australia announced a financial loss of $9.4 million for 2019 and, forecasting a potential $120 million revenue hit this year, has stood down 75 per cent of its staff for three months and slashed salaries to combat COVID-19.

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RA chief executive Raelene Castle will take a 50 per cent cut and her executive will take a 30 per cent hit.

But players remain in the dark on their predicament after Rugby Union Players' Association boss Justin Harrison entered discussions on their behalf on Tuesday.

The lack of direction has prompted World Cup winning captain Farr-Jones to blast RA for the financial mess.

“In sport, your revenues come from three areas,” he told Triple M Radio on Saturday.

“Broadcasting is representative of about 40 or 50 per cent of anticipated revenues or budgeted revenues and then you’ve got sponsors chip in about a third and the balance is largely game day, which is bums on seats and merchandising and what have you.

“And I think in all those three areas in the last couple of years, rugby has managed the game atrociously.”

The Wallabies legend pinpointed one area that has let the code down, which was the struggle to secure a broadcasting deal.

"Sadly, because we don't have a broadcasting deal, which the other codes do have, we are basically, in my opinion, unbankable," he said.

"The NFL went out and raised, I think it was, $600 million through banks. I mean, what a phenomenal situation because they've got this great broadcasting agreement that's in place.

"I think the NRL recently announced that they were going to give each club $2.5 million. That is because they're bankable.

"What are the future incomes of Rugby Australia look to? A hole in the donut."

Rugby community lost confidence: Farr-Jones

Amid growing speculation that his 1991 World Cup-winning teammate Phil Kearns was eyeing the top job, Farr-Jones was asked if it was time for RA chief executive Raelene Castle - who also presided over last year's financially crippling Israel Folau saga - to step aside.

"I think the rugby community has lost confidence in the senior executives and the board of Rugby Australia. There's no doubt about that," he said.

"It hasn't been fantastic the last couple of years.

"Not only has the way we've played, be it the Super clubs or the disappointment of last year's World Cup in Japan.

"But it's really all aspects of the game ... you look at the crowd numbers, for example."

World Rugby turns attention to Australia

The savage realisation for Rugby Australia comes as World Rugby looks at helping struggling bodies.

World Rugby has indicated it will act as a lender of last resort for struggling organisations but Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said international unions had staged their own discussions about how to help those in most need.

"Australia have been reported as being in a weaker position than a lot of others," Sweeney told journalists.

"There is an unprecedented amount of dialogue going on between all the unions and the relationship between the north and the south has probably never been better.

"It's in no one's interest for Australia to get into even more serious difficulties."

It isn't the first time Sweeney has advocated for Australia.

Last November the powerful official said an Australia-hosted World Cup in 2027 would help alleviate their financial challenges.

With AAP