‘They are not good partners’: McLennan puts boot into Kiwis … again

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has launched a fresh attack on New Zealand Rugby by suggesting the Kiwis are not good partners while accusing them of being responsible for South Africa’s exit from Super Rugby and potentially the Rugby Championship in the future.

In comments that will do nothing to mend the deteriorating relationship between Australian and New Zealand rugby, McLennan told the Herald he laughed at criticism from former All Blacks over his .

When negotiating the terms of the Super Rugby Pacific competition in 2021, RA wanted a five-year competition agreement, but NZR only agreed to a two-year contract.

McLennan said last week RA would start competition planning for 2024 with a clean sheet of paper.

The driving force behind McLennan’s comments is an imbalance in broadcast revenue between RA and NZR. NZR receives $89m per year from Sky, while RA has a $33m a year deal with Nine and Stan. .

McLennan’s comments were the subject of heated discussion in New Zealand on Sky’s rugby program The Breakdown.

He’s the only one who thinks it’s going to happen. Even the Australian players [don’t], said former All Blacks centurion Mils Muliaina. This competition has been so great and to hear stuff like that come out in the week of the final . . . that is just crap. I think it’s all talk. I’m disappointed.

All Blacks great John Kirwan labelled McLennan’s threat to walk away from New Zealand as the dumbest political decision they [Rugby Australia] could make, while another Kiwi rugby legend, Jeff Wilson, added: I’m really disappointed in this because this tells me about our relationship.

On Tuesday, .

Comments like Hamish’s in the last week have harmed all 12 clubs and the future, Clark said. It’s a little bit sad because it’s pretty obvious it’s a money grab.

Speaking to the Herald from France, McLennan said he couldn’t care less about criticism from New Zealand.

Bring it on. I was laughing about it. It didn’t worry me at all, McLennan said. Those guys are not privy to the actions of NZR in recent times.

Their aggressive reaction towards Australia perhaps shows why they are not good partners. They have reacted so violently when we’ve honoured their two-year deal.

And in comments that will only inflame tensions between the countries, McLennan pointed the finger at New Zealand for South Africa’s decision to leave Super Rugby, and potentially, the Rugby Championship in years to come. He said there could be severe consequences.

Why are they so annoyed at us exercising our right to explore our options when they forcibly kicked out South Africa and Argentina from Super Rugby for good? McLennan said. South Africa leaving SANZAAR will have a far more devastating impact on rugby in our part of the world.

South Africa has said it will consider leaving the Rugby Championship in 2025 to join the Six Nations in the northern hemisphere, which could spell trouble for Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns has echoed McLennan’s comments and praised the chairman’s combative style.

New Zealand have been taking advantage of Australia’s weakness over the last 20 years, Kearns said. You’ve got to be quite pragmatic about this and if New Zealand don’t want to be a partner, then that’s OK. We’ll go it alone or find someone else to partner with. We’ve got great friends in Fiji and Moana Pasifika. They have been great partners. They can be with us as well.

There’s lots to play out but I think Australian rugby fans should be pretty excited that we’ve now got a couple of administrators [McLennan and chief executive Andy Marinos] who are standing up for us.

Australia’s now in good shape, with a great pathway into the future with the 2027 and 2029 World Cups, 2032 Brisbane Olympics and a British and Irish Lions series in 2025. For the first time in a long time, I’ve got confidence in the future of Australian rugby.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said this week .

I think it’s good for both countries that we play trans-Tasman footy, Rennie said. I think the competition has been excellent this year and our sides have been more competitive. I think it’s good for them, it’s good for us. I’d like to see that continue.

I understand Hamish is an innovative thinker. From a commercial point of view, [Rugby Australia] want a bigger slice of the pie. So I understand his thinking.

Watch every match of the July Test Series on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Kicks off Saturday 2 July with , , and . All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on .

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