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SYDNEY, May 22 (Reuters) - Australia will not need to play as many test matches in the future after last week’s deal over World Cup funding secured a bigger slice of the pie for the Australian Rugby Union, chief executive John O‘Neill said on Tuesday.
Despite a gruelling year of rugby, the Wallabies had barely digested their third place finish at the World Cup in New Zealand before they were off to Europe to play matches against the Barbarians and Wales at the end of last season.
O‘Neill said the World Cup had cost the ARU A$16 million ($15.77 million) in 2011 due to restrictions on sponsorship and loss of revenues from a shorter Tri-Nations and the matches were necessary to help reduce the deficit the union suffered.
Last week’s 7.5 million pounds ($11.85 million) windfall from the new World Cup deal with the International Rugby Board (IRB) would ease the ARU’s financial situation.
“As to the future of additional test matches,” O‘Neill told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday.
“You never say never but certainly our financial circumstances, given the additional distribution of funds by the IRB, doesn’t make those decisions as necessitous as they were in the past.”
The Wallabies play four home tests in the short international window next month, one in midweek against Scotland before a three-match series against Six Nations champions Wales.
O‘Neill said that schedule was less about making money and more about providing the Scots with a warm-up match before their tests against Fiji and Samoa.
“It’s not a schedule that you would normally plan,” O‘Neill said.
“It won’t be happening in future years. This is a one-off to accommodate particular circumstances with the timing of Scotland’s tour to the Pacific Islands.”
Australia play Scotland in Newcastle on June 5 before the first test against Wales in Brisbane on June 9. ($1 = 1.0146 Australian dollars) ($1 = 0.6328 British pounds) (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)