Michael Lynagh (62)
Mergers are never equal and stronger party normally ends up the victor whist weaker party whithers away. Sorry the only one I can see this attractive for is nrl to kill off a rival. Although Rugby Australia and other stakeholders done pretty good job of doing their own self destruction over last 20 years without any helpSeeing as there is no such thing as a bad idea in a brainstorm -- how's this for a crazy idea:
Rugby Australia sells themselves to the NRL and the NRL becomes custodians of the game in Australia.
As the skillset required to play Rugby League and Rugby Union is very similar, the player base is now controlled by a single entity and it is up to them to assign their resources optimally in order to maximise revenue.
Players would therefore be able to move between the codes with ease, and could have their transition structured in such a way that aligns with World Cup cycles, without punishment from the NRL or the current team that they are signed to.
BUT WON'T THIS MEAN THE DEATH OF RUGBY IN AUSTRALIA?
SITUATION A: THE NRL KILLING THE GAME
Right now, it seems RAs revenue is boosted artificially as it struggles to avoid destruction. If you wipe off the inefficient revenue, e.g. assume 100M revenue at break-even, the NRL could at best improve it's position by 100M in Australia if there was 100% revenue transition.
This seems unlikely.
SITUATION B: THE NRL GROWING THE GAME
Working with pure logic and zero emotion, the NRL would have zero reason to kill the game in Australia.
For reference, the annual revenues and profits for the Rugby Australia and the NRL are below. Please note I've taken 2019 figures as they are ex-COVID, which is reflective of BAU:
NRL: 550M // 29M (e.g. 5% profit)
Rugby Australia: 110M // -9M (e.g. -8% profit)
Looking internationally, the NZRU and RFU have the following revenues and profits:
RFU: 400M // 4M (e.g. 1% profit)
NZRU: 190M // -7M
Given that we have approx. 0.4X the population of the UK and approx. 5X the population of NZ, there is no reason that - with a successful Wallabies and Super Rugby system - we can't increase revenues to 200M-400M p.a.
This means that rugby union would boost the NRL's annual revenue by 20% (the current situation) to almost 50% (the best case situation).
More than this, it would do so via traits that are unique to rugby union: a truly international sport and associated World Cup, British and Irish Lions tours, Olympic participation.
They would be able to add ex-pats from rugby playing nations to their customer base in Australia, a market that is likely currently not targetable for them.
Instead, they could treat Rugby Union and 7s Rugby as a separate sub-species of the same sport (e.g. like cricket does in 20/20, One Days and Test Cricket) and allocate its resources accordingly.
Given that fans have a high propensity to move between the codes (all of my diehard rugby union friends are no longer - they have left for the NRL), I can actually foresee a world in which:
1. The NRL brings Rugby Union into the tent
2. For the next World Cup cycle, they allow key players to move codes to boost their chances. The key players are enticed by the challenge, but not worried that it means the end of their careers in NRL.
3. The Wallabies win the World Cup, win the British & Irish Lions series, win the 2027 World Cup hosted in Australia, and revenues go through the fucking roof
4. The NRL is now only the NRL in name. They think to themselves "Jesus fucking Christ, this Union shit has the potential to be way bigger than League. Sod that off, we're Rugby Union purists now"
5. Rugby Union eats the NRL from the inside-out.