Nearly a year after Hamish McLennan floated the idea of restarting the Anzac concept against the British and Irish Lions for their highly anticipated series in 2025, Rugby Australia looks set to grant his wish.
But it could still be further developed to include the participation of longtime ally South Africa, The roar understands
While Super Rugby’s much talked about commission is gaining momentum after Tuesday’s meetings between Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby, as is RA’s private equity bid.
The governing body will announce all the matches of the Lions’ 2025 tour on Wednesday in Brisbane, including three tests and an exhibition match with an Anzac XV in Adelaide.
As was the case in 2013, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney are set to host the three-test series. While all five Super Rugby franchises are set to take on the Lions in a move that will ease political tensions across the national landscape.
The roar understands the NZR has supported the Anzac concept but will not risk players of national interest playing in the unofficial test given that they will host France at the same time the Lions are touring Australia.
Instead, it is understood, they will support overseas-based New Zealand stars such as Richie Mo’unga, who signed a lucrative three-year deal in Japan, and those not in the frame to wear the All Blacks jersey for participate in the match.
It’s a good middle ground struck by the respective national unions, particularly given the immense talent leaving the Shaky Islands and heading overseas to Japan.
All Blacks stars such as Leicester Fainga’anuku and Sam Whitelock will head to France after the Rugby World Cup, while Shannon Frizell and Aaron Smith will also travel to Japan later in the year.
While the Anzac concept hasn’t been played since the British and Irish Lions defeated them in 1989 at Ballymore, the match could still evolve to include participation from South Africa. That would bring together the former Sanzar Unions, who previously competed for the Tri Nations.
Nor is it the only breaking of bread between the two unions.
New Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh is understood to have been in New Zealand to kick off the week, where a lot of ground was covered.
The Super Rugby Pacific commissioner is yet to have a figurehead, but both governing bodies agree it is imperative to have someone in place, even if it is interim, by the end of winter.
But the groundbreaking idea of a Super Rugby draft will not be rushed, with other matters considered more important for the time being.
How RA takes its players onto the pitch also remains of great importance, with the governing body recognizing that New Zealand players, on average, play twice as many games as theirs.
Although it won’t come to fruition this year, RA is looking to introduce an eight-week crossover competition involving the Shute Shield and Hospital Cup, the two tournaments where most of Australia’s talent comes from.
Cross-competition has been on the agenda for the past two years, but Waugh has made it a priority since taking over from Andy Marinos.
“It’s quite a small population, Australia, and if you think about the rugby fan base, it’s based in communities, it’s based in schools and clubs and we need to connect to where our base is,” Waugh said in his opening speech. as RA CEO in June.
“People are now choosing whether they go to club games or whether they go to Super Rugby games and when I was playing you would go to your club game and then support your club players in the Super Rugby game. .
“It’s really important that we get back to that and put our best players and Super players in the clubs. Then we take the club’s supporters to Super Rugby and test matches. I know it sounds pretty logical, but I think there’s been a big gap over time.
“So how do we really connect our rugby community and make sure the game starts and ends at our clubs? We need to invest in that space.”
Meanwhile, sources have told The Roar that RA has approved its information package and financials related to its impending private equity offering.
One-eighth is believed to have come to the table, with another American firm in pursuit of a trophy active in the sport. RA expects competitiveness to increase its value, with NZR, which signed a NZ$200m deal last year, watching closely.
While the governing body has yet to decide whether to go for a debt or equity deal, it is believed that RA will know which path it will take by mid-September.
RA hopes its private equity deal, along with hosting the Lions in 2025 and the Men’s (2027) and Women’s (2029) World Cups, will help jumpstart the game, regenerate its roads and bases, and secure the future of the game.