Welsh Rugby Union CEO Steve Phillips has hit back at pundits of Wales’ disputable fall Test with New Zealand and uncovered the game will acquire the administering body up to £4million.
Wayne Pivac’s side will meet southern side of the equator monsters the All Blacks at Principality Stadium on October 30 in a game which will happen outside of World Rugby’s assigned match window.
It means Wales head coach Pivac will be without his English-based players including Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau, Louis Rees-Zammit and Callum Sheedy and has led to many questioning the merit of the fixture.
But Phillips insists it is vital for the WRU to help fund the community and professional game after its finances were decimated by Covid-19.
WRU AGM sees President Gerald Davies' term extended to four years by member clubs and welcomes new faces
🗨️We are delighted' – CEO Steve Phillips
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 18, 2021
“The first thing I’d say is this is not a new thing,” said Phillips, when asked about the wisdom of Wales playing the All Blacks without their English-based players.
“We’ve done a fourth autumn international since I can remember, and I can remember a good long way back, so it’s always been part of our business planning.
“I would guess we will probably make between £3m to £4m. It’s absolutely vital because that’s what funds the game. It also addresses a lot of concerns we hear from the regions.
Phillips was talking after the WRU’s annual general meeting where Gerald Davies’ term as president was extended by a year to allow the Wales great to continue in the role through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
The meeting was an hour late in starting at the Vale Resort due to some member clubs turning up at the wrong venue. Only 170 of 320 clubs were present – the lowest AGM attendance.
Phillips was challenged by members who did attend about the decision to take Wales’ autumn internationals against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia off free-to-air TV and putting them behind a paywall with Amazon Prime having won the English and Welsh language rights.
Phillips defended the move and maintains it was in the best interests of the game moving forward.
“I think it’s about getting the mix right,” he said.
“The Six Nations will be staying on BBC and ITV for four years and that was the right thing to do. It’s done within the collective of the Six Nations and it’s not just what Wales thinks, it’s what everyone thinks.
“We do work very well with our Six Nations partners so in terms of the best offer looking forward to the autumn series, it came from Amazon. What I’m really pleased with is they are recognising the Welsh language with the investment they’ve put into it.
“I accept there are a lot of people who don’t like it’s not free-to-air, but that’s a different conversation to the Welsh language piece because what we are trying to do is ensure there is equal prominence between the English and the wales vs All Blacks live Rugby.”