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Revealed: How NSW led push to overturn Super Rugby revamp

Australian rugby's state powerbrokers were considering a sensational vote against proposed changes to Super Rugby at Rugby Australia's annual general meeting on Monday.

As RA prepared to announce a net surplus of $5.2 million the year after it axed the Western Force, the Herald can reveal NSW Rugby was leading a late-week push for the four state unions with Super Rugby teams to lodge their disapproval of further proposed reforms by voting them down at the AGM in Sydney.

Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore told NSWRU board members in an email that he is "unhappy with the direction that is being taken".

Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore told NSWRU board members in an email that he is "unhappy with the direction that is being taken".Credit:Louie Douvis

While all the major unions are understood to have major reservations about the proposed new structure, which will see Japan's Sunwolves axed from 2021 and fewer home games each season, it was not clear whether that would translate to support for a show of force on Monday.

A telephone hook-up between NSW Rugby and its members was scheduled for Sunday night to advise the final course of action.

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It is understood at least one of the four were supportive of the move but two others had reservations. Given the broadly weakened position of the game in Australia, there may be little appetite for an internecine battle.

In an email to the NSWRU board members on March 29, seen by the Herald, NSW boss Andrew Hore said the Waratahs were "most unhappy" with the proposed new competition structure, which was approved by the SANZAAR board last month.

"As you know, we are most unhappy with the direction that is being taken in terms of the future competition structure and the flow on impact to our business and believe this is the only way to deliver the appropriate message," Hore said.

"[Chairman Roger Davis] and I are of the opinion that we are not being heard, communication is not transparent and our interests are not being served by the current organisation. The meeting last Monday between the RA senior management and the CEOs of the respective Super States shed no light on the process of how the announced structure come to pass nor any tangible solutions for the future to assist us in ensuring we can develop rugby in the State and remain competitive at Super level."

… communication is not transparent and our interests are not being served by the current organization.

Andrew Hore, Waratahs CEO

In a follow-up email sent last Wednesday, Hore said NSWRU was still talking with its counterparts.

Rugby Australia's 2018 financial report will reveal chief executive Raelene Castle is taking home $815,255 per year.

Rugby Australia's 2018 financial report will reveal chief executive Raelene Castle is taking home $815,255 per year.Credit:Steven Siewert

The changes mean that from the 2021 season the Sunwolves will be axed and Super Rugby will return to a 14-team competition in a round-robin format. It will mean one or two fewer home games each season for Australian teams, a move that would hit businesses that are heavily dependent on ticket sales and match-day revenue. There are also concerns the states' hard work winning over Japanese sponsors will be wasted with no Japanese presence in Super Rugby.

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