New Zealand pushing for global rugby season

New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew

New Zealand Rugby are hopeful the new leadership in World Rugby can see “some increased urgency” around the need for a global rugby season.

New Zealand seconded the nomination of Bill Beaumont for the presidency of the body and with Agustin Pichot as his deputy, in the wake of the retirement of Bernard Lapasset and Oregan Hoskins, they were hopeful that progress could be made on the contentious subject.

“We are working with World Rugby on some options,” NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said at a media briefing in Auckland on New Zealand Rugby’s financial result for 2015.

“There’s plenty of work being done. Are we closer to an agreement? Probably not but at least the discussions are very current.”

No future tours programme is in place beyond the World Cup in 2019 and New Zealand have said they are not prepared to accept a default position which just saw a rolling over of the system in place.

“We don’t believe the current system is sustainable,” he said.

“Our players and the northern hemisphere players won’t sustain that and I think it’s fair to say the French and English clubs don’t think it is sustainable either.

“We need a different season structure than the one we have now and we are not going to default to the current one if we can’t find one. We’re going to force that issue,” he said.

The fallback for New Zealand was that if nothing was in place it would negotiate individual Test matches for 2020 and in the short term that might not be a bad thing, Tew said.

Lapasset had done a good job during his presidency in growing the game and getting it into the Olympics but New Zealand believed it was now time to get some renewed interest in the global season.

With Beaumont and Pichot as a package there was every hope that the dynamism Pichot had achieved in the advance of Argentinian rugby would be transferred to the world game.

There had been a loss of $463 000 last year but that was better that the $955 000 budgeted loss. In the midst of that the year saw an 11 percent increase to $133.7 million, a record for the NZRU and allowed them to retain $59.1 million in cash reserves.

Next year’s Lions tour is expected to be a substantial revenue earner for the Union.

Last time the Lions were in New Zealand, in 2005, they had generated $24-25 million and the NZRU was anticipating more than that this time around, Tew said.

Word from travel agents handling British fans’ travel arrangements were that in the first week or two of sales they had sold 50 percent of the stock they have.

“So there is much more demand than we had in 2005,” he said.

Tew said there had been some vigorous debate during the provincial funding review last year, a consultative process about how much money the NZRU should be left in reserve, how much should be released and how much should tagged.

“It has been a very healthy process but in the end our board makes those decisions,” he said.

There had been an increased investment of $9-million for Provincial Unions and Super Rugby franchises for strategic intiatives to grow the game

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