Qantas has announced it will end its 30-year partnership with Rugby Australia this year.
The airline has also reduced its sponsorship deals with cricket and football codes in Australia in a bid to save up to $20 million a year.
“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,” said Qantas chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully.
“While we’re dealing with this crisis and its aftermath, the cash cost of our sponsorships has to be zero. Without exception, our partners have been incredibly understanding of the situation, particularly as most are facing their own Covid challenges.
“Qantas has had a very long association with Rugby Australia and the Wallabies, and we’ve stuck with each other during difficult times. Unfortunately, this pandemic has been the undoing.”
Qantas said the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason behind the decision to pull out as sponsor of the Wallabies, with Ms Tully describing the health crisis as “the undoing” of the longterm partnership.
Meanwhile, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie today announced the reinstatement of Michael Hooper as team captain for the international season.
The 28-year old first captained the Wallabies in 2014, becoming the 82nd player to lead Australia, and the youngest player (age 22, 223 days) to captain the side since Ken Catchpole (age 21, 354 days) in 1961.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said: “It’s an absolute honour to be the Wallabies captain and I want to thank Dave, the Wallabies management team as well as Rugby Australia for their support and endorsement.”
“It’s a privilege to wear the Wallabies jersey, I feel proud to lead my teammates and to represent those players that have gone before and all Australians.
“I’m really excited about this group and the direction we are heading. We have already spent some quality time together, defining who we are and what we stand for and what we plan to achieve in the coming months,” Hooper said.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “I’ve been really impressed with Hoops. We’ve spoken a lot over the past nine months and it’s highlighted his passion and commitment.”
“He’s a good man with an outstanding work ethic and he’s a great role model for our young men coming through.
“He’s keen to lead, and is highly respected by the Wallaby family. In the end his appointment was a straight forward decision,” Rennie said.
Wallabies legends George Gregan (59) and John Eales (55) are the only two players who have captained Australia on more occasions than Hooper (46).
The Wallabies are set to depart for New Zealand on Friday before two weeks quarantine in Christchurch, New Zealand. Australia will then face the All Blacks in two Tests on October 11 at Sky Stadium in Wellington before moving north to Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday October 18.
The Wallabies will then return to Australia for a historic Rugby Championship campaign on home soil, starting on November 7.