The meeting between the five Australian franchises and the Australian Rugby Union "to thrash out whether Australia will back an expanded Super Rugby competition in 2016 has been brought forward" to Friday, according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN.
The meeting "was originally set down for Monday." But when logistical difficulties arose it was decided the summit between the five Super Rugby CEOs and ARU CEO Bill Pulver "was too crucial to be postponed."
The franchises "fear that if Australia goes along with SANZAR’s plans to expand to a 17 or 18-team Super Rugby competition in 2016, the first year of the new broadcast agreement, added costs and reduced revenue streams could drive some of them to the wall."
Australian rugby’s "grim financial situation is hanging over contract negotiations," but Pulver said that "any hesitancy by the Wallabies to sign contracts was a negotiating ploy, not because they had been offered less money" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/30
). In Sydney, Chris Dutton reported former Wallabies player George Gregan said that Australian rugby "would reap the benefits of allowing players to go on short-term sabbaticals to Europe or Japan as the cash-strapped ARU fights to keep stars away from rich overseas clubs." ARU contract negotiations "have stalled with players being forced to take pay cuts to help ease the financial burden on the game," with reports of some being offered A$100,000 ($92,650) less than in previous years. There are "growing fears there will be a mass exodus of Australia's best players after the World Cup next year" following the French competition's massive A$527M TV rights deals (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/29