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With the Wallabies ranked No.7 in the world following a poor Rugby World Cup, the code has no broadcast deal beyond this year and is yet to finalise the make-up of Super Rugby in the future. Given the economic impact of COVID-19, it is not an ideal time for RA to be looking for a new major sponsor to emblazon its logo across the front of the famous gold jersey.
While Rennie has been in the top job for a matter of months and is still getting his head around the Australian rugby landscape, he knows that winning changes everything. One or two victories against the All Blacks next month on enemy territory could be just the tonic for the ailing code.
“Our job is to play some positive footy and help our marketing people bring in another big sponsor,” Rennie said. “We’ll play our part and hopefully somebody comes on board quickly.”
Reappointed captain Michael Hooper labelled the news of Qantas’ departure “upsetting”.
“We’re under no illusions we want to perform and performing does take care of some things,” Hooper said. “If things come from that … amazing.”
Before COVID-19, RA and Qantas had renegotiated a contract until the end of 2021, but sources with knowledge of the deal say the value was less than previous arrangements.
Qantas, which recorded a $1.9 billion annual loss for the 2019-2020 financial year, prompting thousands of job cuts, told RA it could not afford to continue with that deal and the governing body agreed to end the contract.
Unlike Australia’s national cricket and football teams – who will also lose their Qantas sponsorship money, but have agreed to contra-only deals involving free flights and marketing – RA’s preference was for the sponsorship money itself.
“Contra is important to us, clearly because of the travel we do, but cash is king right now,” Clarke told the Herald. “We need to support our game with resource and that’s cash, so we weren’t able to come to an arrangement.”
Clarke said his phone had been lighting up on Wednesday following the “disappointing news”.
“Not kidding you, the phones have been ringing since the announcement came out, so we’re quietly confident we’re going to be able to find a new partner for next year,” Clarke said.
“Very disappointing after a 30-year partnership to receive that call, but understandable. When COVID hit, it was very clear the pressure their business was under, which is no surprise to anybody and so we’ve been working through the situation with them and unfortunately it culminated in their decision.”
RA says there has been no indication other key sponsors are considering pulling out, but Clarke hinted some deals may have to be renegotiated.
“We’re delighted that most of them have stuck and committed themselves to honour their agreements,” Clarke said. “Clearly we need to massage some of those because we’re not creating as much content as we might have in a non-COVID year.”
Asked whether Qantas’ exit increased the importance of maximising the new broadcast deal, Clarke replied: “It’s totally independent from this news. We are well progressed with discussions but finding a new partner is going to be very important for the front of the jersey. It gives us time at least to reach into the market and find a new partner for next year and beyond.”
Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said the decision was extremely tough for the business.
“In an environment where thousands of our people have lost jobs and thousands more are stood down while they wait for flying to restart, we can’t maintain these sponsorships in the way we have in the past,” Tully said. “While we’re dealing with this crisis and its aftermath, the cash cost of our sponsorships has to be zero.”
A Perth radio station reported on Wednesday evening that Fortescue Metals Group, the company founded by billionaire Andrew Forrest, was set to replace Qantas as the Wallabies’ new major sponsor. RA chairman Hamish McLennan rubbished the claim.
“Not true,” he said. “Haven’t even spoken to them.”
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Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald
The quake was centered in the city of South El Monte in the San Gabriel Valley, east of downtown Los Angeles. It struck at about 11:40 p.m. PST. The quake was felt as far away as Palm Springs, about 80 miles east.
Near Los Angeles International Airport, the quake produced a rolling motion that lasted about 10 seconds. Crews are thoroughly checking the airfield and terminal, though they had not found any damage, according to Los Angeles World Airports.
Southern California has been known as prone to earthquakes, but greater Los Angeles hasn’t seen a large, damaging quake for more than two decades.
A seismologist who closely watches the Los Angeles basin, Lucy Jones, took to Twitter and said that the temblor’s epicenter was in basically the same location as the 5.9 Whittier Narrows quake in 1987 that caused extensive damage.
“Still getting everything processed, but it was a pretty good jolt here in Pasadena,” she tweeted.
Jesus Lucatero, a 37-year-old Whittier, California, resident, expressed a bit of humor after the quake rattled his home.
“The earthquake woke me up and I usually sleep through quakes,” Lucatero told USA TODAY. “I’m one White Walker invasion away from winning my 2020 bing card.”
In a tweet, the Los Angeles Fire Department asked people to prepare for aftershocks.
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas tweeted that the department “is in Earthquake Mode, with all 106 Neighborhood Fire Stations checking their areas for damage.”
The Los Angeles Police Department asked residents to only call 911 for emergencies.
Contributing: Maria Sestito and Shane Newell, The (Palm Springs) Desert Sun; Charles Ventura, USA TODAY
The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck southern California late Friday night
September 19, 2020, 8:48 AM
• 1 min read
SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. — A magnitude 4.6 earthquake struck southern California late Friday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The earthquake hit around 11:40 p.m., about 2 miles (3 kilometers) outside of South El Monte, near Los Angeles, the agency reported. Preliminary reports indicate it was about 11 miles (18 kilometers) deep.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Officials warned residents to be prepared for possible aftershocks.
The epicenter of Friday night’s earthquake was close to the location of the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987, which was a magnitude 5.9, seismologist Lucy Jones tweeted. The Whittier Narrows earthquake killed eight people.
The earthquake was initially reported as a magnitude 4.6. This story has been corrected to show the U.S. Geological Survey revised the magnitude to 4.5.