Waratahs and Brumbies vying for Super Rugby finals spot and quarter-finals cash windfall

Israel Folau, of the NSW Waratahs, looks to get past ACT Brumbies wing Joe Tomane during round eight of Super Rugby at Allianz Stadium earlier this year. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Folau, of the NSW Waratahs, looks to get past ACT Brumbies wing Joe Tomane during round eight of Super Rugby at Allianz Stadium earlier this year. Photo / Getty Images

What's a bonus point worth? For the Waratahs and the Brumbies, try $750,000 and black ink on the balance sheet.

The Australian conference title will be decided in the last round and for the top two sides - NSW and the ACT - it won't just be ​a shot at a title on the line.

For both clubs, the revenue gained by hosting a ​quarter​-final ​may mean the difference between financial profit or loss for entire organisation in 2016.

The two sides are locked on 39 points but the Brumbies are ​ahead based on ​more wins. ​ ​The Waratahs blew their chance last week by not securing a point against the Hurricanes, and so ​at a minimum ​must ​claim ​the​ maximum five points against the Blues in Auckland on Friday night​.

The Brumbies are expected to account for the Force in Canberra on Saturday night but will have to respond and also pocket a bonus point if NSW do the job in Auckland.

The winner ​g​et​s​ to host a quarter-final in the Super Rugby playoffs, and if the Waratahs' ​balance sheet in 2014 and 2015 is any guide, ​gate ​revenue of between $500,000-$700,000 will be needed to stave off ​a ​deficit for the​ ​year.

In the Waratahs' premiership season in 2014, the club was on track to post a $1.5 million loss but was saved by a $2.2 million ​windfall from hosting a semi-final and a record 61,823 crowd ​at​ the final at ANZ Stadium.

Last year the Waratahs banked $760,000 for hosting a ​semi-​final, but ​are believed to ​have ​still recorded a yet-to-be reported loss of over $500,000.

All Australian franchises got $1.6 million extra from the ARU in the new TV deal but for many that money ​has gone to plugging existing shortfalls.

The Brumbies​ ​are ​particularly ​in ​dire need of ​added ​revenue​ this year​. ​Already struggling financially, they parted ways with CEO Michael Jones this year with an undisclosed financial settlement.

​Finances aside, Waratahs players are motivated to make the finals this year so they don't send veterans Wycliff Palu and Dave Dennis out on a cold Auckland night.

​NSW coach Daryl Gibson​ named a slightly changed side to meet the Blues, with Dennis moved to no.8, Jack Dempsey to no.6 and Dean Mumm back into lock. Palu is on the bench, Reece Robinson replaced the suspended winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, and Uni centre Jim Stewart named for a possible debut on the bench.

"You come into this organisation and those guys ​ (​Palu and Dennis) have been stalwarts​," Bernard Foley said​.

"They have been the pillars of this place and they have really driven the culture, the discipline and for this team we want to send them out on a high for sure.​"

Foley said the team were focused on putting in a performance to be proud, not a bonus point, and they would not be ​burdened by the history of just one win at Eden Park for the Waratahs in Super Rugby history.

"​You look at some of these young guys and they're that young they don't have any psychological issues whatsoever​," he said.

"​They just play the game for what it is, and that's the way we have to approach it."

WARATAHS TEAM TO PLAY BLUES (FRIDAY, 5.30PM AEST): 1. Paddy Ryan, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3. Tom Robertson, 4. Dean Mumm, 5. Will Skelton, 6. Jack Dempsey, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Dave Dennis, 9. Nick Phipps, 10. Bernard Foley, 11. Matt Carraro, 12. Rob Horne, 13. Israel Folau, 14. Reece Robinson, 15. Andrew Kellaway. Reserves: 16. Hugh Roach, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Angus Ta'avao, 19. Sam Lousi, 20. Wycliff Palu, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. David Horwitz, 23. Jim Stewart. ​

- news.com.au

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