Fox Sports bosses reportedly believe Rugby Australia always intended to pull the pin on their pay TV deal in a bid to move the struggling code onto free-to-air television.
The broadcaster's deal with RA is due to run out at the end of 2020, but talks about a new agreement broke down on Wednesday.
The current pay television deal, signed in 2015 was worth $285 million, giving RA $57 million a year.
The Daily Telegraph, owned by Fox Sports Australia's majority owner News Corp Australia, reports that the broadcaster's executives now believe RA's chief executive Raelene Castle never intended to strike a new deal.
The newspaper said she rejected their opening offer of $200 million, but remained silent for months without indicating her preferred price.
Fox Sports executives believe the RA boss scuppered a deal so she could take the struggling code onto free-to-air television on Network Ten.
The report suggested Castle was also gambling on a bid from Optus, which is yet to make any offer, to make up for any shortfall in funding.