Former Wallaby Brendan Cannon says rugby in Australia could be dead in a few years on the back of dwindling revenue.
And with Super Rugby bosses to meet in London this week, Cannon says there is the chance an Australian team will be cut from the competition with the Rebels, Force and Brumbies all in limbo.
Rugby union has been on the wane for more than a decade and is behind the AFL, the NRL and the A-League at present.
“Put bluntly, the game in its current state isn’t viable long-term in Australia,” Cannon said in his NewsCorp column.
“You have four Australian franchises effectively needing handouts from the ARU just to stay afloat, and even the Rebels get financial assistance too. It’s unsustainable.
“It’s not scaremongering to imagine the ARU, a few years down the path, potentially going into receivership and effectively have to be governed by World Rugby. With ever-dwindling revenue, it just can’t keep giving out money.”
The game’s heyday of the late 90s and early 2000s has long past when Australia dominated world rugby. Super Rugby is only televised on pay TV which garners a minimal audience.
Like the NRL and AFL, Cannon says Australian rugby needs a central commission to govern all aspects of the game.
“Instead of talk about our franchises and whether we should keep five or cut one, how about we keep five and become one,?” he said.
“This is the moment for Australian rugby to copy the successful governance structure of New Zealand rugby. It’s time to centralise.
“Australian rugby is at a crossroads and we must all be honest: what will happen in five years if major change is not put down on the table. Right now.”