Rugby Aust consider new club competition

Rugby Australia are considering the introduction of a new national club competition, once the code's new broadcasting deal has been finalised.

Rugby Australia will investigate forming a new national club competition, but won't settle on a format until the next broadcasting rights deal is signed.

RA revealed the strategy after a News Corp Australia report claimed a two-division national club competition could be part of the 'whole of rugby' package to be presented to broadcasters.

"Rugby Australia wishes to confirm that it has investigated the establishment of a national club competition ahead of its media rights negotiations," RA said in a statement issued on Thursday.

"However the final competition format will not be determined until further consultation with the successful broadcaster, the state and territory member unions, and the clubs."

Fox Sports has held the rights to the majority of major Australian rugby content since the professional era started in 1996, heralded by the introduction of the Tri-Nations and Super Rugby tournaments.

It was reported Fox Sports had ended their 25-year relationship with the code after RA rejected their offer for the rights package for the 2021 to 2025 time frame.

But RA chief executive Raelene Castle remains confident they will still bid for the rights when the market process to negotiate a deal gets underway soon.

Optus and Network Ten are believed to be other parties interested in securing rugby content.

Sydney club rugby, which has been seen on free-to-air on the Seven Network in recent years,is reportedly being wooed by both RA and Fox Sports.

The News Corp Australia report said the mooted national club tournament would replace the National Rugby Championship (NRC), which has been operating since 2014, though RA insisted no decision had been made on its future.

"The National Rugby Championship (NRC) will continue in its current format in 2020 and continues to be part of the discussion for 2021 and beyond," RA said.