The All Blacks have threatened to boycott Rugby World Cup 2015 unless commercial restricitions imposed on teams are reassessed.
New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief Steve Tew said pulling out of the tournament would be “the very last port of call” but could not be ruled out, as the current deal sees his organisation post a loss in every World Cup year.
Tew said the problems stemmed from shortened Test schedules and the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) ban on team sponsor promotion during the tournament.
“The World Cup issues are multi-faceted. The commercial rules for the tournament for participating unions are, we believe, far too tough, much tougher than FIFA’s.
“If this was a soccer World Cup, the All Blacks’ hotel would be decked out with our sponsors until Thursday before a weekend match. In a Rugby World Cup, our sponsors do not get a look-in. They are very excluded.”
According to Tew, the NZRU simply can’t sustain the financial losses associated with competing.
“We lose $NZ13.2 million ($10.5 million) worth of revenue after income from Rugby World Cup and costs are adjusted. It cannot carry on,” Tew said.
“We said at the last board conference that we needed a full review of the IRB’s financial model, Rugby World Cup commercial rules and RWC money flows. We are waiting with some anxiety what the IRB are going to do about it.
“…Frankly, the prospects of us going to England in 2015 under the current model are very slim. We cannot continue to sign on for an event that costs us so much money.”
The NZRU has been pushing the IRB for changes to the commercial arrangements for eight years according to Tew and finally decided to go public to try to ensure the issue was finalised by 2015.
“All we want is what is best for world rugby. New Zealand and Australia tend to have to bang the table pretty hard at times to get people to listen.
“Our approach has always been to do things by negotiation and discussion and try to reach collaborative decisions but, ultimately, you have to get something.”
Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains supported Tew’s criticism of the IRB’s tight grip on World Cup revenue.
“Why should your major stars be in a debt situation to make money for somebody else? It doesn’t really make any sense,” Mains said.
“That’s a simplistic way of looking at it, but there’s a whole financial model around rugby, particularly in this country, that is struggling.
“But on the world stage, the All Blacks are the No.1 attraction and Steve Tew has got a very relevant point.”
Buford Balony says: That’s because the Kiwis can only win in their own country and don’t want to choke on foreign soil…CHOKERS.