Podcast 270 - Legal Eagles - Green and Gold Rugby

Podcast 270 – Legal Eagles

Podcast 270 – Legal Eagles

In light of the events of yesterday, there was a need for a huge podcast. Reg and Hugh are back to chew the fat on the latest episode of the Green and Gold Rugby Show, and were joined by the ever reliable Brett McKay to talk all things NRC.

In light of the law decision regarding the Western Force in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, the lads were also joined by lawyer and popular GAGR contributor Paul Jurdeczka (otherwise known as Bay35Pablo) to explain the legal ramifications behind the license agreement and the repercussions of it.

Much of the podcast also makes reference to some really fascinating supporting documentation released by the ARU yesterday, claiming that Australian rugby would be insolvent by the end of the current TV deal. For those who haven’t had the chance to read it, check it out here.

The Five Burning Questions –

1. What does today’s decision in the NSW Supreme Court mean for Super Rugby and the Western Force? (feat. Paul Jurdeczka)
2. How do the Wallabies beat the Boks this weekend?
3. What was the standout team performance in the opening round of the NRC?
4. Which individual player caught your eye in the NRC?
5. Do you think the attacking focus of the NRC will remain?

  • Huw Tindall

    Excellent pod. Best I’ve heard yet. Tops the Ben Darwin one and that’s saying something. Great insight on the Force saga and good chat on the next Wallabies test and of course the NRC. Brilliant stuff.

    On the Force saga, the more detail that comes out about the whole mess, the less arseholey the ARU seems. They were stuck between a rock and hard place and cutting the Force was the only realistic option they had at the time – legally they could do and financially it was better than cutting the Rebels, although not by a lot in the end. Twiggy came to the table too late and as the guys call out on the pod the WARU and others have some questions to answer on their own part in this. Regardless, what the ARU can’t escape is just how poorly they handled the whole thing. The silence and seeming secrecy allowed the agenda to get out of control and often little more than theories (some of the conspiracy variety!) to run riot. Yeah they were probably restricted somewhat by the ongoing legal proceedings and the fact there are commercially sensitive agreements in question but they could have done more. Be more transparent. Engage more with the community. There is no real happy ending here. Aussie rugby was/is in all sorts and the we haven’t handled the situation well.

    • Bakkies

      ‘On the Force saga, the more detail that comes out about the whole mess, the less arseholey the ARU seems.’

      Huw they released a bunch of lies don’t fall for the BS coming out of St Leonards you are better than that.

      Rugby WA have already released two statements to counter the rubbish that de Clyne was spewing.

    • Not sure I agree the ARU seem less like arseholes tbh. IANAL, I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but from what I understand of the bail-out deal between the Rugby WA and the ARU, it seems like a reasonable person (and I count myself as that) reads it as “the deal survives until the end of the current SANZAAR arrangements, 2020, or until it’s renegotiated” and downsizing Super Rugby seems to count as a renegotiation, no way around that. So they’re legally absolutely in the right. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it a good way to do it though.

      So why on earth (I won’t tell you how long it took me to edit that to be polite) did it take them MONTHS to announce the decision? They knew, and the Rugby WA knew, what the contract said. They could easily have announced it within 48 hours of the original “we’ve got to lose a team” deal, because the contract is pretty much cut and dried – a high court decision within a week, they don’t get much faster than that.

      If that happens we don’t have two teams left wondering. We don’t have players left in limbo as their seasons run out and no one is sure whether to pick them up or not. Australian players aren’t left to leave the country in droves. OK, with the best will in the world, some will vanish out of rugby or back to amateur ranks probably, but the Force had a cluster of good players that Australian rugby will regret losing to Europe or Japan (or potentially America if their leagues start getting up to speed). And that regret won’t be just for the next year, it be over the next 5+ years – say to the end of the 2023 RWC. Your count and mine may vary but it’s probably around 10 current and likely future Wallabies that are without a comfortable landing spot now, plus any players from WA that go to play other sports because there’s not a path into rugby for them now.

      If they’d announced it then, who knows if the money would have appeared back then and an alternate model would have been found and perhaps more amicably. Of course that may not have happened and the ARU was still in a hard place.

      Much as my heart goes out the folks in WA, the ARU made the legally correct decision and maybe made the right decision in other ways too. But they handled it like a bunch of arseholes IMO.

  • ForceFan

    Good podcast.
    Inputs from Pablo and Brett very good.

  • Tah Tragic
    • RugbyReg

      if only we knew a lawyer who could help us sue him!

  • Bay35Pablo

    Remember that when Pulver and Clyne did the press conference months ago, they said the ARU couldn’t continue with 5 teams or it would send them broke. That shocked me to the core at the time, and I understood then how serious it was. I think we all got distracted by all the arguing since, and the court case, but we come back to that again. That’s been consistent.
    Could it have been better handled? Yes. By all sides? Yes. has that also distracted us from the real issue? Yes.
    Everyone has been quick to burn the ARU in effigy because they wanted someone to blame for everything going wrong. Again we come back to the real issues being:
    1. The causes were laid years ago by earlier administrations.
    2. Australia should apparently never have expanded to 5 in the first place, and JON says when they did he recommended against it but the board at the time didn’t listen.
    3. The constant expansion of the Super Rugby comp has tended to be to placate South Africa, who wanted more teams, in part to get a South East Cape side in to in turn placate the SAF government and their aggressive program to increase black involvement in rugby. However, the ARU and the NZRU gave into this when they could always have said no, as any SANZAR decision needed consensus. At each point they clearly saw benefit in it for themselves in some way. However, at each point from memory SAF was always rattling the sabre to run off to Europe if they didn’t get what they wanted. Oh, look what’s happening now …..
    4. The move to the Super 18 was the final straw. It moved to a format that was too unwieldy and complicated. It reduced derbies which were the more attractive games for each nation. The finals qualification was seen as unfair. The SAF teams didn’t even get to play any NZ teams in some cases. This was all done to get an extra SAF team in, as well as placate World Rugby to get Argentina in, and squeeze Japan in. The latter was arguably to get exposure to a new large TV market for extra dollars, to compete with European lucre. However, overall the changes made Super Rugby such a mess of a product it started to flop.

    As I said on the podcast, the ARU is now in survival mode. We have to see out the last 3 years of the current (renegotiated) TV deal. When we get to 2020 the deal making will start again, as to what the new deal for 2021 is. At that stage I fully expect SAF will look to move their remaining SR teams to the Pro 14, but keep the Boks in the TRC. The time zone, reduced travel and better money from being in Europe is just too good. It was attractive 5, 10 and 15 years ago, but in that time the money in European rugby has grown so much it is now irresistible. However, the Boks want to keep playing the ABs (and us) as it keeps them a better side than say jumping into 6N (and which would cheapen the RWC).

    The next 3 years really needs to be spent:
    a. Tightening the belts, battening down the hatches, and staying solvent. As a team – all RUs together.
    b. Keeping Perth in the NRC as a spring board to bring the Force back. If we can get enough revenue in the 2021 to fund 5 teams, we cannot click out fingers and create a 5th team out of thin air. We cannot store an SR quality team for 3 years, but we can keep a spine able to build back off so the last 12 years of building it isn’t all gone to the wind.
    c. Working out what the heel the TV deal and comp from 2021 will be. We cannot just work that out in 2020. It will take time. The current comp cannot be rolled over. We need a viable plan in place so if and when SAF goes, we can say “adios” without being caught short.
    d. As such, we need to be talking to the NZRU (but also JRU, and World Rugby in respect of the Pac Island nations). I suspect the NZRU have a dangerous “we’re all right, so what’s the problem” attitude 9at least publicly). However, Australia and NZ always sink or swim together. If the ARU hits the wall, NZ doesn’t have the location, the population or the money to go it alone. It would just become a talent source to poach players from like the Pac Islands (plus a new market for NRL and AFL). This doesn’t mean Australia gets to dictate going forward, but it does mean the NZRU needs to look upon any approach as needing to look after everyone. Australia’s loss long term will be NZ’s – they need to realise that. I don’t know if they do yet

    The senior management of the ARU will go or be gone. They will be the sin eaters and scapegoats. Everyone gets to blame them. One thing I have learnt in large institutions is that such a change of guard can be both useful and dangerous. Useful because it let’s everyone get on with dealing with each other and the problems with the fiction of a “clan slate”, when often many of the players are still the same. Dangerous because people sometimes think the problem was the people now gone, so the problems are solved. To the contrary. The problems are the same. This process needs to galvanise the sport to fix them, and properly. We are facing a similar challenge to what soccer in Australia faced and fixed about 15 years ago. However, rugby isn’t built on the same bedrock. It is not as popular a sport as soccer. It is more of a fringe sport.
    To steal a game of Thrones analogy – Winter is Here. So stop fighting each other.

    But easier said than done ….

    • Tommy Brady

      What an outstanding, very well written piece Pablo – thank you!!

      The fractures that have been created in Australian rugby over recent years are real and disturbing. Whilst Awareness is always, the first step towards addressing a problem how confident can one be that the parochial fighting that has ripped the sport apart can be eradicated and replaced by a greater sense of common good and a deeper belief that “a rising tide can lift all the boats”?

      How confident can one feel that the replacements on the ARU Board will be personnel capable of designing and executing the necessary structural changes to a/ stabilize the sport and then b/ grow the sport to a proper place of health and prosperity. These are not normal times so they require highly capable people steering this recovery. Sadly, my proposals to people well qualified to take on an ARU Board role get met with a very firm “No (expletive) Interest”!

      Despite being flushed with cash from a recent B&I Lions tour and some renewed global company sponsorships there is a VERY real awareness within NZ Rugby that a healthy, competitive Australia is very important to the fortunes of rugby there. Understandably, there have been some anxious peeks across the Tasman at the dramatic fall-out in Australian rugby which has prompted the question why should they partner with someone currently so incapable of “keeping their side of the street clean”. NZ Rugby will always support Australian rugby – they have little choice. The degree of support though will be dictated by how well Australian rugby can present themselves when the negotiations around 2020 begin. The ball feels firmly in the ARU court.

      I get the angle of SA Rugby aligning themselves with EUR rugby. I am just not yet 100% certain of the buy in to effectively shift their domestic rugby season to the summer months to incorporate the U.K. Winter. The money as you say is irresistible – but as the saying goes, money does not always buy you happiness. Or is this more of a “careful what you wish for” scenario. I believe it is essential we retain a close connection with South Africa. Anything less would be hugely impactful.

      The single biggest fear I have for Rugby Down Under is it tragically goes down the path of soccer and all our finest players are lost to the pulling power of fat cat private owners throwing Pounds and Euros. This is where there must be the highest quality thought process to competitions from 2021. There must be a competitive, cost-effective, well understood competition that features our finest players and coaches. If MUST be the single best rugby competition in the world and the envy of everyone in the NH. Player and coaching salaries will never match the NH – but the discount will never be wide enough to prevent a wholesale loss of talent. The thought of that is a pain too great to bear.

    • Bay35Pablo

      This comment ended up becoming the basis for my article “Australian Survivor 2021″ published today

  • Brett McKay

    Really enjoyed being part of this one, and it was great to have Pablo as part of the discussion and provide the exact layman’s explanations we all need about this rather complicated saga.

    And I loved that in naming one NRC player each to have caught our eye, we named about 25 players between us!!

  • Bakkies

    Knuckles put the Reds through the wringer on a smaller scale to what Michael Jones did to the Brumbies last year. The Jones’ case and payout were the only reasons why the Brumbies didn’t make a profit last year.

  • MungBean

    I keep hearing this argument that Forrest’s proposed rival league won’t work. And, you know what? It probably won’t have any long term viability.

    But that isn’t the point. Neither Murdoch’s Super League, nor Packer’s WSC made a profit or enjoyed longevity but both forced changes in the NRL and ACB such that league and cricket were stronger afterwards. The ACB decided it was better to have Packer inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in. And the Super League saga forced the end of the reign of the Manly mafia.


Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician, second rower. Still trying to make sense of the 21st century. Dropped a debut novel last year...

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