Andrew Forrest’s hopes of launching the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship in 2019 have hit a roadblock, with Rugby Australia still refusing to give the competition its permanent endorsement.
Forrest’s team, which includes former Western Force skipper Matt Hodgson, has been in negotiations with the governing body for months.
The IPRC needs to be endorsed by RA before it can be approved by World Rugby.
The six-team competition hopes to attract some of the world’s best players, including a host of Australians plying their trade overseas, but they would only then be able to play for the Wallabies again in the event of RA’s full endorsement.
However, given the IPRC will run at the same time as Super Rugby, RA has demanded more control over the new competition and is apparently only willing to offer temporary endorsement.
That’s a situation Forrest’s team simply can’t accept given the amount of money they are prepared to pump in.
A Rugby Community event in Perth was planned for December 10 with certain announcements expected but has been postponed because of the breakdown in negotiations.
Forrest’s team will meet with RA’s working party in Sydney next week hoping for some sort of agreement.
“We were disappointed with the terms they presented to us,” Hodgson said.
“It just wasn’t commercially viable.
“They definitely want a lot of control. There are some things that are big stumbling blocks for us, especially around the terms and the length of temporary endorsement.
“We’re looking to go back to them and talk through our thoughts and hopefully we can change this to a permanent endorsement. That’s probably a non negotiable for us.”
RA has copped widespread criticism for axing Western Force from Super Rugby.
A subsequent Senate inquiry revealed some potentially dodgy dealings by RA in helping Melbourne Rebels find a way to avoid the chop.
WA Liberal Linda Reynolds has called on corporate watchdog ASIC to investigate the scenario.
Earlier this week, Hodgson wrote a Facebook post criticising RA for its demands regarding the IPRC.
“It remains obvious to us after three months of continuous negotiations that Rugby Australia doesn’t have the best interest of the Western Australian rugby community at heart,” he said.
“Rugby Australia’s demands include money to support East coast based programs rather than supporting the WA community, even as they are crippling our local rugby infrastructure.
“We will not be sending any more money over east, our money will remain for our people and to grow our game in Western Australia.
“The current Rugby Australia position is so uncommercial and unreasonable that it ensures the failure of the IPRC before it even starts.”