‘Bad business’: Angus Crichton’s manager slams Rugby Australia over botched deal

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Angus Crichton’s manager has slammed Rugby Australia officials, describing negotiations with the governing body as “bad business” following their decision to withdraw the two-year offer they tabled the rugby league star just days earlier.

Crichton’s manager David Rawlings has shed light on the negotiations which fell over on Sunday after two-and-a-half months of back and forth between the two parties.

Angus Crichton and Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennanCredit: Getty

Rawlings revealed that he gave RA a deadline of last Friday to get back to him with clarification around the structure of the deal and potential bonuses. RA responded on Sunday by rescinding their original offer.

“It’s not much of a surprise to us that negotiations have fallen over given the manner in which they’ve been handled since we began discussions,” Rawlings told the Herald.

“On at least three different occasions, I’ve questioned whether their intent to sign Angus was genuine because we had concerns around the disconnect between the communication we were receiving from the chairman, chief executive and head of contracting. They were all on different pages.

“We had contracting deadlines missed on multiple occasions, which is just bad business. This wasn’t a money grab. He was keen to go. He thought he could help. I feel for the Western Force. They would have got themselves a potential world-class No.12. The pathway that they laid out for Angus was very appealing.”

Angus Crichton against the Wests Tigers earlier this year.

RA has been contacted for a response. This masthead reported last week that RA had tabled a deal worth up to $1.6 million for the Roosters back-rower to play for Super Rugby club Western Force and the Wallabies.

The value of the offer for 2024 and 2025, disputed privately by Rugby Australia, has since sparked public and internal backlash for the game’s decision-makers.

At the heart of frustrations is a belief from RA that Crichton’s manager leaked the details of the deal when it was sent to him on September 26. It’s a claim that has been refuted by Rawlings.

Crichton’s manager also revealed that he called out RA chairman Hamish McLennan for trying to use his client’s name as a “headline grab” when he told Channel Nine in May that they could “easily afford” both Crichton and Joseph Suaalii.

Hamish McLennan, Trent Robinson, Joseph Suaalii.Credit:

“It was as early as May that the chairman went public with his desire to sign Angus to generate headlines,” Rawlings said.

“And at that point, I called him and told him he was out of line using Angus’ name as a headline grab. He also used Trent Robinson’s name and said he would make a good rugby coach to generate attention.

“He apologised for bringing Angus into it because at that time we hadn’t had discussions. When we finally did sit down to chat, and they tabled an offer, it seems to me the balance between the privacy of the negotiation and the public announcement was blurred.”

“Within 12 hours of us receiving an offer, I was getting calls from journalists who were aware that the deal had been tabled. That didn’t come from us, I can assure you. Some of the reporters who broke the story were over in France, where RA officials are for the World Cup.”

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh, left, and chairman Hamish McLennan at Allianz Stadium in Sydney back in June.Credit: James Brickwood

Crichton is on a deal worth about $675,000 at the Roosters in 2024. The club had given him its blessing to explore the possibility of returning to rugby union and would have looked favourably upon a release request.

The Force were looking at playing Crichton as either an inside centre, or as a ball-running loose forward.

Crichton last week travelled to France to watch matches at the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby Australia sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the confidential nature of the deal, disputed the reported figure and told stakeholders the offer to Crichton featured a base salary, and incentive structures to earn more.

But Rugby Australia leadership still came under fire from some disgruntled member unions over the pursuit of Crichton, given the financial predicament of the sport and the fact the news emerged in a week after the Wallabies had all-but been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup.

The Wallabies’ horror World Cup campaign has been compounded by this masthead’s revelation that coach Eddie Jones conducted an interview with the Japanese rugby federation days before the start of the tournament.

Watch all the action from Rugby World Cup 2023 on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Every match streaming ad-free, live and in 4K UHD with replays, mini matches and highlights available on demand.

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