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Rugby league "used to be the game that ruled Sydney," but not "anymore," according to Paul Crawley of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. In "a major embarrassment," the National Rugby League "backed down" to the Australian Football League "over a scheduling stuff-up at ANZ Stadium" that could cost the NRL Canterbury Bulldogs their last home game of the year. As of Tuesday night the NRL still did not "have a venue or date for the crucial round 25 clash" between the Bulldogs and Penrith Panthers that was going to be played on Aug. 30. The AFL Swans-Hawthorn final round blockbuster "will take priority on that Friday night." Red-faced NRL officials "were scrambling to try to limit the damage this has done to the NRL's credibility." NRL Dir of Marketing & Commercial Paul Kind on Tuesday night "could give no indication when the game would be played." Asked why the NRL backed down to AFL, Kind "could not offer a clear reason." He said, "Not because we made the mistake. You can simplify it if you need to but where we are is we thought we were in a position to lock that match in for the Friday night and in the end the AFL has been granted that spot by the Stadium." Asked if it was the Stadium's fault, Kind said, "It was the Stadium's decision" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/31).
The French Rugby Federation (FFR) "has signed a new agreement with the Consortium Stade de France" that will see the French national rugby team play at the stadium until '17, according to Christophe Palierse of LES ECHOS. The new agreement, which "was signed on Friday, includes 20 games of Les Tricolores at the stadium between July and June '17." The negotiations between the FFR and the stadium consortium "have been complicated by the federation's recent decision to build its own stadium." While financial terms of the agreement "were not disclosed in the joint-statement of the two parties," rugby magazine "Midi Olympique" reported that the sides agreed on a total of €23M ($30.5M) for the 20 games. That's €1.15M ($1.5M) per game instead of about €2.8M ($3.7M) the FFR paid "under the previous aggrement, which expired on Tuesday" (LES ECHOS, 7/29).