In the midst of a wildly popular Rugby World Cup tournament being held currently in the Shakey Isles, NZRU boss Steve Tew has stated that the All Blacks would be ‘very unlikely’ to try and defend their title/win for the second time in nearly 30 years in England in 2015.
The NZRU has calculated that they will lose a net 13.2 million NZ pesos from their annual revenue this year due to the World Cup.
This is a sizeable chunk of their overall operating budget. This is due to a combination of reduction in sponsorship revenue due to IRB insisting only their sponsors (paying directly to the IRB) are used during the cup and reduced gate takings from lack of inbound tours in RWC years.
Tew is demanding the IRB change the funding struction or the ABs will be forced to pull out of the next tournament.
This is not the first time the NZRU has threatened to take their ball and go home with similar comments about the lack of a share of the takings from lucrative November European tests involving the All Blacks that are a windfall for the local union.
Lack of cash is a real issue for NZ rugby. It’s a continual struggle to keep top players involved in Super Rugby and the domestic competitions as player salaries are significantly less than other top tier nations.
The current funding arragements for the RWC are effectively a tax on the NZRU (and other major unions) to fund the world governing body and other unions’ development. The NZRU is talent rich but cash poor.
Tew is correct to push for more sensible arrangements particularly around individual team sponsorship.
The RWC is an incredible cash cow for the IRB. This money is important for the development of the game but only if the big boys, in terms of sponsorship attractiveness at least, are looked after.