2 Mar 2018

NZ Rugby joins forces with Harlequins

4:11 pm on 2 March 2018

The New Zealand Rugby says its new deal with Harlequins in London will likely see the two organisations co-operate to develop each others players.

But NZR chief of strategy Nigel Cass said this is unlikely to involve All Black level players at this stage and NZR will guard against simply exporting New Zealand's rugby talent and coaching skills to the London club.

New Zealand Rugby and the English club Harlequins signed the co-operation agreement earlier today saying it was designed to create "opportunities for players, coaches and staff to learn."

Steve Tew during Keven Mealamu's announcement of his retirement.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Nigel Cass said the primary reasons for the deal are because Harlequins already has a relationship with the All Blacks sponsor addidas and the club is based in London - the largest rugby market in the world.

He said one of the first obvious signs of the agreement will probably involve the All Blacks carrying out promotional activities at Harlequins during their up-coming tour of England.

Cass said there were no current plans for All Blacks to be playing for Harlequins in the off season but the organisation was talking about lower level co-operation between players and coaches.

"We're talking to them about whether there are coaching and player co-operation opportunities. It might mean that we've got players from their academy that we are assisting to come over and play in Mitre 10 Cup and equally there may be opportunities for our young players to go have a look at the academy strucuture at Harelquins."

But Cass said New Zealand Rugby would guard against handing its talent and rugby skills over to Harelquins.

"We've got really tight controls in terms of confidentiality and we are very careful about what we share. We don't want to overstate what this is - it is just an agreement to recognize that they are strategically placed in London and we share a major commercial partner in Addidas.

"It's an agreement to put a toe in the water if you like - to open the door and talk about co-operation."