The move has destabilized relations between the unions at a time the 25-year-old SANZAAR alliance between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa looks to be dead in the water, with South Africa determined to join Europe’s Six Nations.
NZR, which on Sunday announced the sacking of All Blacks assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar and the appointment of Crusaders assistant Jason Ryan, are gobsmacked Australian administrators think RA is entitled to an even cut of pooled broadcast rights revenue.
Kiwi broadcaster Sky tips in about $90 million to the current deal and Nine, the rights holders in Australia and publishers of this masthead, tip in about $30 million. Out of that, NZR gave Australia an extra $5 million, under terms agreed when Australia’s financial survival was in question.
RA, feeling like they are back on a stronger footing with expected cash injections ahead of the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and 2027 Rugby World Cup, want the next deal to recognize the union’s improved prospects.
Whatever the outcome of this week’s chat, expected to be attended by McLennan, Robinson and NZR chairman Stewart Mitchell, Marinos and Robinson will also break bread in Birmingham this weekend.
Their meetings – and that car trip back to London after competition – will go a long way to determining the spirit in which negotiations continue, with RA intent on having the foundations of the new deal sorted by the end of August.
Meanwhile, Scott Robertson’s right-hand man at the Crusaders has been recruited to the All Blacks set-up, while Joe Schmidt’s influence has grown, in a major shake-up of the New Zealand coaching staff.
Head coach Ian Foster was spared the ax after the All Blacks’ historic series loss to Ireland this month, but New Zealand Rugby have sacked his two assistant coaches, John Plumtree and Brad Mooar.
Ryan and Robertson presided over one of the most successful periods in the storied club’s history, winning six Super Rugby titles together.
Ryan will work with the side’s scrum coach, Greg Feek.
Foster will resume responsibility for attack, with help from former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who has also been appointed independent selector.
Schmidt stepped in to help the side when COVID-19 hit the squad and coaching staff at the start of the Ireland series. He will also fill an analysis role and advise on overall strategy.
The changes come on the eve of The Rugby Championship, which kicks off with New Zealand touring South Africa for two Tests and Australia touring Argentina.
Elsewhere, Tonga secured a spot at the 2023 World Cup with a 44-22 win over Hong Kong on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
Tonga, coached by Wallabies great Toutai Kefu, were down injured stars Malakai Fekitoa, Israel Folau and Charles Piutau, but will now play pool games against South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Romania in the tournament in France next year.
Hong Kong have another chance to qualify later this year.
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