Domestic Australian competition a reality if Super Rugby proves untenable

Rugby Australia [RA] has communicated the "extreme pressure" its financial security is under amid the coronavirus pandemic while also confirming that a domestic Australian competition may serve as a replacement for Super Rugby should it be deemed untenable moving forward.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon, saying Super Rugby steward SANZAAR was doing its best to find a workable solution for the remainder of the 2020 competition.

Given the border restrictions put in place first by the New Zealand- and then the Australian Government, SANZAAR was left with no choice but to suspend Super Rugby for the "foreseeable future" late on Saturday night [AEDT].

Castle said she hoped a resolution could be reached in the coming days and confirmed that all of Australia's Super Rugby players continued to train to ensure they would be ready to return at the earliest possible juncture.

"There are significant commercial considerations and we are looking at various options for the remainder of the season to continue to deliver content for our broadcasters," Castle said. "There are a number of options being discussed but certainly there are considerations for domestic competitions amongst those scenarios.

"Wherever we land, the competition has to have meaning for fans and that is one of the guiding principles we are talking about within this process."

Castle said that SANZAAR and its four member unions were working through models that took the competition's first seven rounds into consideration and gave it the best possible chance of a workable playoffs format.

She acknowledged that that may in fact prove too problematic, which is why a domestic Australian competition -- one that could also see the return of the Western Force after the suspension of Global Rapid Rugby -- had been at the forefront of RA's discussions.

"That is obviously one of the scenarios that we're looking at because of the fact that travel restrictions mean that cross-border competition now doesn't seem realistic, so domestic obviously leads the conversation.

"But that's all the work that we're doing and we expect that we'd be able to communicate on that in the coming days."

Castle also took the opportunity to reach out to the Australian Government -- though not as directly as NRL chief executive Peter V'Landys -- and raise the plight of RA's financial position amid the coronavirus pandemic and its implications moving forward.

The timing of the pandemic could not be any worse for RA with the governing body in the middle of negotiations for its next five-year broadcast cycle.

Castle revealed those discussions had been suspended as she called on the Australian Government to remember the game's place in the nation's sporting psyche.

"In relation to the financial position of Rugby Australia, the impact of government decisions to contain the coronavirus has seen Rugby Australia impacted in ways we could never have imagined," she said.

"We support these decisions as the health and wellbeing of Australians must come first. However, any ongoing restrictions will place extreme pressure on Rugby Australia's finances.

"We are obviously not the only sport in this country facing these challenges in the current environment. As a sport, we have opened communications with the government to flag these significant concerns across all levels of our game.

"We understand that this issue is much bigger than rugby and bigger than sport, and respect where we sit in the picture of what our government is dealing with at this current time."