Ned Hanigan in a lineout for the Wallabies against the All Blacks
UNSW Rugby fans can look forward to seeing more of Elite Athlete Program member Ned Hanigan in action. Photo: Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia have reached an in-principle agreement with Nine Entertainment Co. that is now subject to final sign-off by the SANZAAR Unions.

The three-year partnership commencing in 2021 includes a two-year option to extend, ushering in a new era and a new home for Rugby in Australia, that will result in an overall benefit to the sport worth $100 million over the initial three-year period.

All Super Rugby AU matches will be live and ad-free on video-on-demand streaming service, Stan, alongside Super W and all matches of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Saturday night’s Super Rugby AU match will be live, free-to-air on the Nine Network every week. All Super Rugby AU finals matches will also be live, free-to-air on the Nine Network.

Stan will also exclusively stream every Wallaroos Test, The Rugby Championship, The Bledisloe Cup, as well as all inbound Tests for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina with select games also broadcast free-to-air on Nine.

The rivalry and tribalism of Club Rugby is also included in the landmark deal, which will see every match from two of Australia’s oldest premier Rugby competitions – the Shute Shield in New South Wales and the Hospital Challenge Cup in Queensland - on Stan.

The new partnership with Australia’s leading media and entertainment company will also see unrivalled support and promotion of Australian Rugby across its blue-chip holdings in radio, newspaper publications, digital media, streaming services and free-to-air television broadcasting.

Moreover, Australian Rugby will benefit from additional investment into a world class broadcast production which will be integral to growing fan engagement from the grassroots up.

Rugby Australia interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said: “Firstly, on behalf of Rugby Australia, I’d like to thank everyone involved in this process.

“A special thank you to FOX Sports and Foxtel as well as its Chief Executive Patrick Delany, who have done so much for our game throughout its professional history. We have enjoyed great highs over our 25-year partnership, and we would not be in the position we are today without their support.

“I would also like to acknowledge Network Ten and Beverley McGarvey who, over the last five years, have been ardent supporters of Rugby in Australia and have helped take our game into new homes right across our country.

“Rugby Australia is very excited about our new partnership with Nine Entertainment Co. and what’s in store for our great game over the next three years and beyond. I would like to make special mention of Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks and Stan’s CEO, Mike Sneesby, for their professionalism throughout this process, as well as their shared vision for the future success of Rugby in our country.

“Rugby has found its new home on Stan and the Nine Network, with broad reach on free-to-air television as well as ad-free, extensive access on the Stan platform.

“The fantasy has become a reality for the Australian Rugby community. This is a landmark deal that includes everything in the showbag, and it gives more Australians more access to more Rugby than ever before. Australian Rugby is transforming with an exciting future ahead, and this innovative partnership enables us to fast-track that growth from the grassroots up as well as showcase and promote the game like never before.

“We’re particularly pleased for Super Rugby to be live on free-to-air for the first time in its history. We’re also thrilled to partner with streaming service Stan, which now boast more than two million Australian subscribers and are growing at a rapid rate. We’ve recognised that the broadcast landscape has changed, and we’re changing with it.

“Nine and Stan have also made a commitment to our women’s game, both at a domestic and international level. Rugby Australia is passionate about the growth of the women’s game in Australia and we look forward to working closely with them to showcase our competitions and talented players as well as encouraging more women and girls to pick up a Rugby ball,” Clarke said.

Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan said: “I’d like to thank Rob, the Rugby Australia broadcast sub-committee as well as the Rugby Australia Board for running a strong and rigorous process. This agreement ensures the future of our sport and this exciting new chapter enables Rugby Australia to dynamically grow the game from the grassroots up.

“I too, would like to echo Rob’s remarks, and thank Foxtel and FOX Sports for their long service to Rugby in this country and their support over the last 25 years,” McLennan said.

Stan’s CEO Mike Sneesby said: “Rugby Australia is making bold moves in the development of the sport – something that fits perfectly with what we do at Stan. This partnership with Rugby Australia will see Stan launch its live streaming capability in 2021 as we take Australian sports television into a new era. Through the combined audience reach and engagement across Nine’s television platforms we are well positioned to bring Rugby Union to more Australians than ever before.”

From 2022, Rugby Australia will work with Nine Entertainment Co. in establishing new assets, like State of Union as well as Men’s and Women’s Sevens tournaments.