O'Neill threatens to strike back - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Neill threatens to strike back

By Darren Walton 01/11/2008 11:26:28 AM Comments (0)

Angry ARU boss John O'Neill has threatened retaliatory strikes against northern hemisphere nations who send second-string teams to Australia for winter Tests against the Wallabies.

O'Neill says Wallabies spring tours of Europe could become a thing of the past unless Australia starts receiving a fairer deal from the likes of France and Wales, who have both sent seriously weakened touring parties down under in the past two years.

Not only do the second-string touring line-ups hit ticket sales and deprive the Wallabies of much-needed revenue and international competition, Australia are then denied any percentage of the gate takings when they fill venues at northern hemisphere Tests.

And O'Neill is fed up at being short-changed while watching other countries cash in on the popularity of the Wallabies.

"In my personal view, our point of leverage is we don't go north," O'Neill said ahead of tonight's historic Bledisloe Cup Test in Hong Kong.

"What I'm saying is the integrity of international Test rugby relies on everyone playing by the rules.

"If there comes a time when the northern hemisphere don't comply with the regulations and send their best team south, and we suffer the consequences of a downturn in gate and a downturn in popularity of the game, we might say, 'don't come in June and we will come if you pay us."'

The Wallabies leave for Italy on Sunday before playing further Tests this month against England, France and Wales on successive Saturdays.

New Zealand are embarking on a similar tour and will play Scotland, Wales, France and England, despite the All Blacks also suffering the same shabby treatment from northern hemisphere nations as the Wallabies in recent times.

"Twickenham, Millennium Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Croke Park and Murrayfield will all be full, and why? Because the Springboks, Wallabies and the All Blacks will all be there, full strength," O'Neill said.

"They're earning in their currency, pounds and euros, and they're going to do very well out of it.

"But we've had two years of under-strength teams. We've had Wales in '07 and France in '08 and we have to find a solution."

Despite his boycott threat after this year's fiasco, O'Neill has accepted an assurance from France that they would send a full-strength team to Australia for a one-off Test next June in Sydney.

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