SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The #COVID-19 virus has turned the world upside down and presented scenarios we never thought possible. Look no further than rugby for examples of the surreal or unimaginable. Specifically, let’s check out what’s going on down under between Australia and New Zealand in Super Rugby and poke the tires on the Sonny Bill Williams/ NRL Bus.
SUPER RUGBY MANDATE
If you were told an ultimatum in Super Rugby was issued by one of the nations partaking, you’d likely bet your beer money that it came from New Zealand’s NZRU. Never in a million years would you consider that a mandate would be blasted over the airwaves by the Aussies. But that’s just what happened, despite a rousing Super Rugby Aotearoa restart to 15s and a less-than-thrilling Super Rugby AU reboot. The abridged version of the story is that the Australian Rugby Union was in nothing short of a shambles BEFORE the #Coronavirus engulfed us. Financially and commercially, the whole of rugby union in Aussieland was in Dire Straights (pun intended). With few people attending matches, heavy competition from the NRL and AFL, the future for the Wallabies and Super Rugby Australian sides was not bright.
Cut to the present…
Rugby Australia got a relatively small but desperately needed renegotiated TV deal with Foxtel. That, along with support from realists in New Zealand who acknowledge the need for Aussie Super Rugby teams in any future iteration, gave the Aussies a new sense of bargaining power. Indeed, they are demanding that all five of their teams be involved in any trans-Tasman comp, while the Kiwis basically want two. That’s where the ultimatum comes in: RA boss Rob Clarke’s deadline of September 4 for the NZRU to accept the 5 Oz-based teams in the new comp, or have none at all. In fact, the Kiwis have made an offer that was rejected by Rugby Australia. The Aussies saying “no” after all that’s gone on is quite the turn. Crazy times indeed.
SONNY BILL WILLIAMS
The odds were high and many Vegas types believed Sonny Bill would be once again strutting about NRL paddocks in a Roosters kit after his two weeks in quarantine. In fact, yours truly bet some of his rainy day stash on the likelihood it would happen and the needed parties fell in line – like Australian Rugby League Commission Chair Peter V’landys.
“He’s a big brand and he’ll attract a lot of attention to our sport,” V’landys told 2GB.
Indeed, Williams and his family flew from London to Sydney, which was tricky with current stringent travel restrictions in place, however, there has to be a valid reason for a family to enter Australia… like an “employment situation.” [Ahem].
Now, after the aforementioned quarantine, Sonny is working his way into game shape for his comeback in round 17 in Canberra.
Find All Here:
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