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Qantas Calls It Quits On Rugby Australia After 30 Years

R
ugby Australia has been left searching for a new principal sponsor after Qantas announced it will cut the cost of its sponsorship spend to zero due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This move sees the end of a 30-year alliance between Rugby Australia and Qantas, and leaves Rugby Australia with a reported $20 million gap in funds, at a time where they are already under great financial stress, and still searching for a new TV broadcast rights deal for 2021 and onwards.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive, Rob Clarke, said Qantas has been the official airline of Rugby Australia since 1990, and since 2004, has held the official naming rights of the Wallabies.

“While it is obviously disappointing to lose such a loyal partner, it is understandable given the world we are all now living in, and the challenges we are all facing,” Clarke said.

“There aren’t many 30-year partnerships in Australian sport, and I want to thank Qantas for everything they have done for our great game.

“Alan (Joyce) and his team have been transparent and collaborative in their discussions with us and they have now given us the opportunity to prepare for 2021 and beyond.

“While we have all felt the effects of COVID-19, Rugby in Australia is entering a very exciting new chapter.

“We have a Rugby Championship on home soil for the first-time ever in November, a new generation of Wallabies players keen to make their mark, a Lions Tour in 2025 and the opportunity to host a Rugby World Cup here in Australia in 2027,” he said.

The decision from Qantas comes after a review of its five key sports sponsorships, with Rugby Australia, Cricket Australia, Football Federation Australia, the Australian Olympics Committee, and Paralympics Australia.

Qantas chief customers officer, Stephanie Tully, said while Qantas will no longer spend on sponsorships, the sports will still have access to support through commercial flights, Qantas marketing channels, and properties.

“In an environment where thousands of our people have lost jobs and thousands more are stood down while they wait for flying to restart, we can’t maintain these sponsorships in the way we have in the past,” Tully said.

“While we’re dealing with this crisis and its aftermath, the cash cost of our sponsorships has to be zero.

“Without exception, our partners have been incredibly understanding of the situation, particularly as most are facing their own COVID challenges.

“Qantas has had a very long association with Rugby Australia and the Wallabies, and we’ve stuck with each other during difficult times.

“Unfortunately, this pandemic has been the undoing.

“Like all Australians, we’ll continue to cheer them on from the sidelines,” she said.