Rugby’s standing in Australia looks set to be dealt a telling blow, with reports broadcaster Fox Sports will end its 25-year association with the code.
Rugby union has been seen as a sport in decline in Australia for some time, with diminished TV ratings and crowd attendances contributing to wider issues.
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The code has also had to deal with the fallout from the messy Israel Folau saga over the last 12 months, with Rugby Australia's lengthy legal battle eventually resulting in a settlement with the controversial former Wallabies star.
However, in a further blow to the game, Fox Sports will walk away as Australia's main rugby broadcaster after months of talks ended on Wednesday.
The Australian has reported that RA CEO Raelene Castle and Foxtel boss Patrick Delaney have not spoken in person for several weeks.
Rugby Australia's current five-year, $285 million deal with Fox Sports ends after 2020.
Fox Sports has been the home of Super Rugby matches in Australia, while it shared broadcasting rights with Channel 10 for Wallabies Test matches.
The new development leaves Optus as Rugby Australia's most likely partner for a new broadcasting deal.
“Rugby Australia’s preparations for the next five-year rights period have led to a key focus on creating alignment across the rugby competitions in Australia,” an RA spokesperson said.
“Our strategy is to provide an integrated whole of rugby presentation to our fans and, importantly, we are confident that there is real interest from the market in this content. We are preparing to take the package to market early this month.”
Israel Folau saga takes dramatic twist
Super League club officials have unanimously voted to prevent teams from making controversial signings following the furore over Israel Folau's move to Catalans.
Representatives of 11 of the 12 clubs were present for the monthly meeting in Salford, with only Bernard Guasch, chairman of the French side, absent.
Other clubs specifically requested the presence of Guasch, who has come under fire following the recruitment of former Wallabies star Folau, which went against the wishes of Super League and the Rugby Football League.
The issue also angered most of the clubs and Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell went as far to write a letter to the Catalans warning them of possible legal consequences if his club lost out financially if sponsors withdrew support due to Folau.
"Super League has clearly and consistently outlined its position on Israel Folau," Super League CEO Robert Elstone said in a statement
"With the season underway, we now feel it is important for Super League to separate what is an off-field matter from what is happening on the field.
"The Super League Board accepts the legalities around the RFL's decision to register Israel Folau, and the board has voted unanimously to put in place measures that ensure the Super League has greater authority to stop controversial signings such as this in the future.
"As a sport we have an impressive and enviable track record when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion and we will continue our great work in those areas."