Rugby News: RA loses multi-million sponsor in wake of McLennan axing, Foz on RWC call he’ll ‘never get over’

Super Rugby sponsor Harvey Norman has decided to end their multi-million deal with Rugby Australia following the departure of Hamish McLennan.

The decision by the electrical and furniture giant is reported in The Australian – the key mouthpiece of McLennan – and confirmed by the company.

“The Harvey Norman contract with Rugby Australia expires at the end of December, the decision has been taken not to renew,” a Harvey Norman company spokesperson told the paper.

The Australian also reported that Cadbury – another big sponsor brought on by McLennan in his role as RA chairman – were “deeply concerned” about the state of the game following his removal.

The decision by Harvey Norman comes after McLennan warned opponents: “Spear me and there will be a world of pain” before he was replaced as chairman by Dan Herbert.

Harvey Norman has reportedly put $5 million in their rugby sponsorships.

In the days since his removal, McLennan has made it clear that he would not be helping the sport he professed to love following his departure, saying: “They can’t lean on me to continue to help on broadcast deals and the Rugby World Cups in Australia, and all the other commercial matters and still expect me to contribute in that regard.”

Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan speaks to the media during a press conference at Matraville Sports High School on January 31, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Foster reveals call that angered All Blacks

Ian Foster says he’ll “never get over” a late call from referee Waynes Barnes in the World Cup final.

Foster, speaking on NZ radio show The Platform, believes the All Blacks should have had a penalty late in their 12-11 loss to South Africa in Paris.

New Zealand had reportedly sent a letter of complaint to World Rugby over some decisons – including a call to disallow a try after a knock on from Sam Whitelock – because too many phases had elapsed between the incident and Aaron Smith crossing over.

Now Foster has confirmed another call that he felt went against them at the death – Barnes failing to ping Kwagga Smith for what Foster said was a clear cut case of hands on the ground.

“You can look at some of the controllables, there was a great Jordie Barrett chip in the first half and Ardie ran onto it, the ball didn’t bounce his way,” Foster said.

Ian Foster, Head Coach of New Zealand, looks on as he walks past The Webb Ellis Cup during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Steele – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“We had a couple of goal kicks in that last 20 that didn’t go over.

“I think the World Cup should have finished on a penalty to us, near where Jordie missed his first kick.

“Kwagga Smith clearly had hands on the ground when he won a ball at the breakdown that we didn’t get a penalty for.

“The drama of having a 48-metre penalty to finish a World Cup, that wouldn’t have done anyone’s nerves any good anyway.

“But look, there’s a whole lot of ‘what ifs’, but that’s what it is.”

Foster said he understood that big matches are often decided by close calls but this one would linger forever.

“We’ve always said World Cups are unique and you look back at 2011 for example, we won a really tight game against France 8-7,” Foster said.

“People forget about how tight that game was, they just remember the victory.

“There were cries from the French for a penalty in the last part of that game.

“Am I philosophical? I guess I am about it but what I’ve learnt, I’ll never get over it I don’t think, but there is no point us carrying around a lot of anger about it either because it doesn’t change.

“We’ve just got to acknowledge that’s what finals are about, there is a bit of drama on all counts.”

Farrell keen to play through to 2027

Owen Farrell has returned from the World Cup with the hunger to prolong his career for as long as possible.

Farrell led England to a third-place finish in France following an agonising semi-final defeat by South Africa but, unlike a number of his international peer group, the 32-year-old has no intention of looking towards the finishing line. 

Ben Youngs, Courtney Lawes and Jonny May played their final Tests at the World Cup, while Dan Cole, Joe Marler, Danny Care and Manu Tuilagi are also close to signing off at the highest level. 

But Farrell has raised the possibility that he could still be present for Australia 2027 as England enter a period of rebuilding. 

“I love what I do, I’m passionate about it and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon,” the Saracens captain said at the season launch of the Champions Cup at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday. 

“I’m unbelievably lucky to do something that I’m really passionate about and I want to play as long as it can if I’m still excited about what I am doing. 

“The two go hand in hand because if you’re not excited then you won’t do what you want to do anyway, you won’t play for the teams that you want to play for and you won’t play to the standard that you want to. 

“I wouldn’t sit down and set targets. But I also wouldn’t say they are not in the back of my head, quietly. 

“I wouldn’t be one to say ‘I have written this down, this down and this down, this is what I want to achieve and this is what I am working for every day’. But they are there in the background. 

“The exciting bit is what’s in front of us. Where you can take what you’ve been doing and how to get the best out of yourself. Hopefully there’s loads more of that.” 

Farrell’s immediate aim is to help Saracens challenge for silverware on two fronts with the Premiership already under way and their Champions Cup opening against the Bulls on December 9. 

Saracens have won three European titles, their most recent coming in 2019, and the competition retains a special place in Farrell’s heart.

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