1 Mar 2019

Tew: 'We want to help Pacific rugby'

12:38 pm on 1 March 2019

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has commented on the proposed World Rugby League for the first time, saying nothing is confirmed yet and he wants to help grow the game in the Pacific.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew Photo: Photosport

World Rugby is in discussions to form a 12 team World League from 2020, including teams from the Six Nations, while the USA and Japan would be invited to join the Rugby Championship, at the expense of Pacific Island nations.

There has been an outcry around the Pacific following reports of the proposed league.

The head of the Pacific Rugby Players group said the format of a proposed competition takes away any aspirational pathway to the top for their emerging nations.

In a statement, Tew said no decisions about the international format have been made yet.

"World Rugby and the national unions including New Zealand Rugby have been working hard to increase the meaning and value of international Test matches.

"It is well documented that the game is under pressure to grow revenues so the game from the community level up can thrive.

It is obvious that here in New Zealand we are under pressure to retain our top talent as the international player and coach market continues to be challenging. In addition we have a huge opportunity to grow the woman's game in this country that will also require new resources," Tew said.

He added: "We are all working hard to find a balance between a model that delivers what fans are demanding, the welfare of our players, while at the same time ensuring we are preserving the integrity of rugby and providing a pathway for the smaller and developing nations here in Oceania but all around the world to develop and participate.

"Having said all that there are some fundamentals that New Zealand Rugby has made very clear from the outset.

"Any new competition must have a pathway for new and developing countries to join including our pacific neighbours. That is not only fair and the right thing to do, but it also preserves the integrity of any competition. We can not add to the work load burden of our players with out making other adjustments and we are also mindful of the role of our other competitions Investec Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup.

"World Rugby have been proactive and bought an idea to the table, we have been refining it over several months and a positive spin off has been some real commercial interest in backing it. Having said that nothing has been decided, we have not agreed to anything at this stage and have always been working to the March World Rugby meetings as the next opportunity to discuss the details.

"There's no simple solution to this, but New Zealand Rugby remains committed to working through the proposals with the right people in the room."