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Rugby Australia Signs New TV Deal, Rugby Returns On July 3

Rugby Australia has confirmed a new domestic broadcast rights deal with Fox Sports, announcing the return of the reworked Super Rugby AU competition on July 3.

The deal will see the pay-TV network cover the new Super Rugby AU competition, featuring only Australians clubs, after the Super Rugby competition that involves teams from Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and Australia, was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fox Sports has been a broadcast partner of Rugby Australia for 25 years, and while the financial terms of the updated agreement have not been releases, Rugby Australia noted it is ‘a significant reduction’ on the original deal.

A separate deal is also yet to be finalised for the broadcast of any Test matches held in Australia this year.

The Super Rugby AU contest will see the five Australian sides play each other twice before a two-week play-off round to conclude the season, with the grand final scheduled for September 19.

Rugby Australia interim CEO, Rob Clarke, said the organisation is focused on the success of the Australian-side-only competition.

“Our focus is now back where it should be, getting Super Rugby AU up and running next month and watching our five Australian teams go head-to-head in week after week of Aussie derby action,” Clarke said.

Rugby Australia confirmed the matches will initially take place behind closed doors, opposite from New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, that will have no limit on crowd size.

This new broadcast agreement comes amid reports from the Sydney Morning Herald that Rugby Australia is in early talks with the Australian arm of American company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) over taking an undisclosed stake in the organisation worth ‘hundreds of millions of dollars.’

The private equity firm has reportedly stated the investment is contingent upon a new competition model that could be introduced in 2021, replacing the existing Super Rugby structure.