Foster hits back at Rugby Australia

Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images
Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images
All Blacks coach Ian Foster has hit back at Rugby Australia, claiming New Zealand Rugby is not a "charity" for them.

Super Rugby is set to look significantly different from 2021, with the Covid-19 pandemic compelling both NZ Rugby and RA to reassess their futures.

Both are reportedly in talks around a new transtasman Super Rugby competition, potentially featuring a Pacific Island team – a recommendation from the NZR-led Aratipu review.

RA were left concerned as part of that review reportedly proposed an eight-team competition featuring just two Australian teams.

But Foster told Newshub that when it comes to competitive and financial strength, a line in the sand needs to be drawn.

"This is not a charity," he said. "We've got to make sure they're feasible, they're financially viable and that the public are really going to get behind them.

"Whatever number of teams that can play this game at a financial level."

Former Australian rugby boss John O'Neill believes New Zealand and Australia need each other, and any competition needs to have a significant Australian presence.

But the numbers struggle to back up his stance. Since 2015, Australian Super Rugby sides have won a total of three of 49 games played on New Zealand soil.

Viewership continues to thrive in New Zealand as well, and has spiked since the start of the makeshift Super Rugby Aotearoa. For Australia, it regularly falls behind fellow winter competitions like the NRL and AFL, which has likely been a factor in RA struggling to nail down a broadcast deal beyond 2020.

The current broadcast deal expires at the end of the year.

Foster was much more welcoming around a Pacific Island team joining a rejigged competition.

"Of course [I support it], but it's got to stack up like everything else," he said. "We've seen in the past that if we let teams in that can't survive, then you've got to keep changing the competition around."

Since Super Rugby moved to 15 teams in 2011, there have been four revisions to the competition's format.

"We've got to do whatever we can to get competitive teams against our teams."

Foster has no problems with the talent level in New Zealand, saying "we're pretty secure in our five [teams].

"Once they get their number, we can sit around and have a conversation."

Details within the Aratipu review are set to be presented to the NZR board in a meeting tomorrow.

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