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Rugby Australia explores potential of private equity investment

Rugby Australia (RA) has begun the search for a private equity investment in a bid to support the long-term future of the sport.

Rugby Australia explores potential of private equity investment

Hamish McLennan, chairman at the RA confirmed the governing body's plans, stating that it could be an "incredibly exciting period" for domestic rugby in the country.

“The RA board met last week and has approved a pathway forward to private equity proposals,” said McLennan.

“We are tidying up a few loose ends with potential advisers and this will have the potential to chart an incredibly exciting period for rugby in Australia.”

Across the world, sport has suffered significantly in its financial department due to the COVID-19 pandemic and RA has not been exempt from that, having already found itself in financial difficulties following the pay out to Israel Folau, reportedly worth around AUS$4 million, after he was sacked due to writing homophobic comments on social media.

Additionally, RA's principle sponsor Qantas exited the deal, which was thought to be around UAS$5 million per year and have been hit with reduced match revenues and a downgraded broadcast deal.

The organisation reported a AUS$10 million deficit for 2019 and its 2020 numbers are due to be released in the near future.

It remains unclear on whether the RA will sell only the Super League component of its business or whether it will look to emulate New Zealand Rugby and consider a whole-of-business approach.

According to reports, US private equity firm Silver Lake is looking to be offering US$340 million for a 15 per cent share in the All Blacks.

Both Silver Lake and CVC Capital Partners, who hold stakes in England's Premiership Rugby and and the Pro14 provincial competition, have been touted as interested parties in the RA.

Author: Jake Wilkin