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Volume 7 No. 95

Leagues and Governing Bodies

With the announcement of the National Rugby League women's competition for '18 "out of the way," the code and its key stakeholders are "shifting into planning mode," according to Fiona Bollen of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. At this stage, the competition is a "puzzle full of moving pieces" with many details still to be determined after the number of licenses is confirmed in the new year. Until that happens, the number of players involved in the first season remains unknown, but the Rugby League Players Association plans to "start talks with the NRL, most likely after Christmas, to make sure all the needs of players are considered and taken care of." RLPA general counsel Tim Lythe, who will be "central to the negotiations," said, "There are a number of areas that still need to be finalized in relation to this new competition. In the near future, the RLPA will negotiate with the NRL the terms and conditions relating to the working conditions of the players involved. It's crucial that we get the right level of protection and support in place from the beginning." What they need to consider are the "usual commitments that exist in the modern game" like appearances on behalf of club and code, travel and media spots. There is the need for players to access high performance facilities and staff, scheduling of training sessions, and "possibly the biggest question -- remuneration." The recent collective bargaining agreement allocated A$3.75M ($2.83M) to the elite women's game over five years, which gives the NRL A$750,000 ($565,000) at its disposal each season. Until the club structure is determined, it will not be known how player payments will be managed, but "all these obligations are ones the RLPA and NRL will work through" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/11).

The EuroLeague released a statement following the EU's ruling on two professional ice skaters' complaint against the Int'l Skating Union. The league said in the statement, "As a direct consequence of the ISU ruling, FIBA will no longer be able to:

  • Sanction or threaten to sanction clubs for participating in Euroleague Commercial Assets’ (ECA) competitions (EuroLeague & EuroCup) as opposed to FIBA competitions (FIBA Basketball Champions League & FIBA Europe Cup).
  • Sanction or threaten to sanction domestic leagues for their clubs choosing to participate in ECA’s competitions as opposed to FIBA’s competitions.
  • Sanction or threaten to sanction officials or referee coaches for officiating in ECA’s competitions.
  • Sanction or threaten to sanction national federations including their national teams for clubs from their territory choosing to participate in ECA’s competitions."
The statement added, "After making many efforts to resolve the above with FIBA, in 2016 Euroleague Basketball presented a complaint to the European Commission warning that FIBA was conducting similar practices to ISU, requesting the modification or elimination of a number of articles that prevented the freedom of choice of clubs, players, coaches, officials and referee coaches to participate in competitions that are not recognised by FIBA, which currently allow FIBA to issue severe sanctions" (EuroLeague).

Raelene Castle will become Rugby Australia's new CEO and the "first female boss of an Australian football code," according to Tom Decent of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Castle "edged out" former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns for the position, despite reports suggesting he was the favorite to take over rugby's top job. An announcement is "expected to come in the next few days that Castle will take over" from incumbent CEO Bill Pulver. The appointment of the former National Rugby League side Canterbury Bulldogs CEO is a "watershed moment" for Australian sport given no female "has ever been the boss of a major football code." There "was an appetite" within Rugby Australia ranks for the new CEO to be a "rugby person" but Castle's expected appointment shows the code "wants a fresh set of eyes to put it on a new path." More than a 100 people applied for Pulver's job and in recent weeks that number "was cut to only three" (SMH, 12/11). In Sydney, Wayne Smith reported Castle is regarded as being a "safe" appointment. As the CEO of the Canterbury Bulldogs for four years and before as CEO of Netball New Zealand for six years, Castle has "considerable experience as a sports administrator running a code." For all Pulver's abilities and experience, the fact that he had "never run a sport before joining the then Australian Rugby Union was always regarded as a liability." Tennis Australia has a female president and chair in Jayne Hrdlicka and Kate Palmer was Netball Australia's CEO, but "no woman has been CEO of a major Australian football code." It "might not be her gender that Australian rugby fans have most difficulty with but her ­nationality." The thought of a New Zealander, albeit one born in Wagga Wagga, "running Australian rugby would have seemed preposterous less than a decade ago," but "much of that barrier was broken down" when Robbie Deans was appointed Wallabies coach in '08 (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/12).

Rugby Australia Deputy Chair Brett Robinson is heading into negotiations on Tuesday with Andrew Forrest's Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship "confident the two parties can reach a settlement that will allow the IPRC to coexist with Super Rugby" from '19, according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. There are "indications RA is prepared to work with Forrest." The IPRC expressed concern that RA was "reluctant to give a long-term commitment to the competition" but Robinson on Monday indicated RA was looking at whether Forrest's competition "might be worked into the post-2020 landscape." Robinson said, "The issue around the term (of the agreement) we're certainly open to discuss but really what we're seeking to achieve is a trigger for a conversation around alignment going into the next broadcast deal." What that means is Australia is "looking to a time when South Africa might decide its future lies in Europe, at which point RA would be looking at how Super Rugby evolves." The proposal is that New Zealand and Australia each would field five teams, which "presumably would mean the Western Force would be revived, and that the trans-Tasman partners would join Forrest's five Asia teams to form a 15-team time-zone friendly competition." By the time of the next broadcast deal, the IPRC would have been running for two seasons. It "makes sense that the IPRC is going head to head with Super Rugby in the February-July timeslot rather than taking on the ­National Rugby Championship" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/12).

Force India Formula 1 co-Owner Vijay Mallya's extradition trial to face fraud and money laundering charges of Rs 9,000 crore ($1.35B) in India resumed on Monday in London, with his defense "fielding a legal expert to question the impartiality of India's judicial system," according to the PTI. The 61-year-old's barrister, Clare Montgomery, deposed Martin Lau to give his views on the evidence presented by the Central Bureau of Investigation and Indian Supreme Court rulings. Lau, an expert on South Asian law, said, "I hold the Supreme Court in the highest respect but it is equally not disrespectful to indicate that some doubts are voiced about particular patterns [in judgments]." Lau "is also being made to elaborate on the application of Indian laws relevant to the case." He claimed that some of the money laundering allegations against Mallya may fall under a "retrospective application" of the Money Laundering Act because the alleged offenses occurred before '13, when the act was amended in India. Earlier on Monday, the defense deposed Force India CFO Margaret Sweeney (PTI, 12/11).