28 Feb 2020

New Zealand Rugby signals big changes following review

12:49 pm on 28 February 2020

New Zealand Rugby want to change the way the game will be managed as they attempt to halt the decline in player numbers and reduce operating costs.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson. Photo: Photosport

New Zealand Rugby undertook a review of rugby earlier this year involving all 26 provincial unions and five Super Rugby clubs, to ensure the sport remains sustainable over the next decade.

The review identified a number of opportunities to grow revenue and remove inefficiencies that could allow rugby to access potential $20-30 million for reinvestment into the game.

That could mean provincial unions change their main focus from chasing success in the domestic competition, the Mitre 10 Cup, to increasing participation and looking after the club game at a local level.

That would leave the Super Rugby sides to manage player identification and development.

It's been suggested the individual unions will have to give up their development programmes in favour of centralised academy's based at the Super Rugby franchise bases.

The Mitre 10 Cup format could also be overhauled.

The review outlined five key areas, the high performance pathway, expenditure, resourcing, domestic competitions and revenue growth.

The Unions will be given time to consider the recommendations and give their feedback before NZR's board meeting next month.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said consultation would now begin on the opportunities presented.

"We will now work closely with Provincial Unions and Super Rugby Clubs and other stakeholders to assess the Review findings, and determine what is practical and desirable, to ensure that we continue to deliver rugby in a way that is economically viable and relevant to fans and the community.

"This is an important opportunity to stand back, look at the needs across all levels of rugby, from community to elite, and ensure we have the right priorities in place to keep boys, girls, men and women in New Zealand continuing to have a lifelong love of the game. We know that rugby in our regions has a rich and proud history and we want to maintain that connection.

"No decisions have been made. This next phase is about consultation and for rugby to determine which path we think is best for the game's future."

Consultation will commence immediately and take place during early March through a number of workshops involving Provincial Unions, Super Rugby Clubs, NZR staff and other stakeholders.