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Rugby News: Razor open to 'Richie Rule', worrying reason for NZR's $43m loss, RWC draw farce addressed

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27th April, 2023
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The next All Blacks coach, Scott Robertson, has begun to prise open the closed door policy that means the All Blacks never select overseas based players.

While Robertson is still six months away from taking over the job from Ian Foster, he’s attracting plenty of headlines as the man in waiting.

While facing media after naming his four assistants, Robertson was asked about the Kiwis eligibility rules – the context being that his top two No. 10s – Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett – will be overseas in 2024, and Damian McKenzie is yet to be tied down to a contract.

“We will have conversations, you have got to be a step ahead,” Robertson told reporters. “If you are a step behind and then changing rules, and that is when you get caught.

“I will present the board where I think the game is heading, potentially, but a lot of that will be happening when I get in the role.”

Richie Mo'unga of the All Blacks

Richie Mo’unga (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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NZR reports big loss

A day after Rugby Australia announced its first profit in four years, their Kiwi counterparts have reported a hefty financial loss of just over $NZ47 million ($A43.5m) in its financial statements for 2022.

NZR’s annual report, presented at its annual meeting in Wellington on Thursday, showed a net deficit of $NZ47,461,000, according to a report in stuff.co.nz.

NZR had a surplus of $5.54m in 2021 – its first profit since 2017.

NZR chief financial officer Jo Perez said they were in a “rebuild” phase following COVID-19, adding increased costs were caused by impact of the pandemic, investment into the women’s game and impact of rising inflation.

NZR’s cash reserves are at $95 million, and while income rose to $271 million, up from $189m the previous year, expenditure rose to $318m (up by $135m).

The cost of competitions increased by $56m from the previous year, to just under $137m. That included spending on the Rugby World Cup in NZ and Super Rugby Pacific.

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The cost of the World Cup will raise keen interest in Australia, with RA due to host the women’s tournament in 2029.

NZR Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said 2022 had been a challenging but historic year for rugby in NZ, led by the Black Ferns Rugby World Cup success and the country’s support of women’s rugby.

“There is no doubt 2022 will be remembered for the way the Black Ferns captured the imagination of fans in Aotearoa and around the world during the Rugby World Cup. It was an event that reminded us of how our sport can bring people together and inspire a generation. It also provided a moment of celebration for New Zealanders as we emerged from the backdrop of Covid.

“We continued to see participation bounce back from Covid declines through 2020 and 2021, particularly for our women and girls, and we set up the commercial arm of our business to ensure we can take the opportunities ahead. It is an exciting time to welcome our new Board members.”

WR to tackle draw flaw

World Rugby’s chief executive Alan Gilpin has acknowledged issues with the World Cup draw and says they will be addressed in future.

The draw for this year’s tournament was done in 2020 and there has been a sinificant shift in world rankings since then. Tjhe upshot is a stacked side of the draw that includes Ireland, France, New Zealand and South Africa. The Wallabies and England have been the major beneficiaries of the absurb timing of the draw.

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Gilpin told reporters that draws would no longer be made so far out from the tournament. Instead the draw should be made less than a year out from the finals.

He was asked about the frustrations of fans of teams on the tough side of the draw.

“Absolutely, and I understand, too, the frustrations of coaches and players,”said Gilpin.

“There is a counter to that, which is that we provide fans with great certainty early to plan their World Cups. But it needs a better balance and to get to a point where there is a fairer draw for all nations.

“The lopsided half is because of the draw timing. We are using the world rankings, which is the best reflection of the relative strength and weakness of teams, but if it is done at a certain point of time compared to now then it can become outdated.”

Gilpin also said the World Cup is likely to feature the system around TMO reviews of yellow cards that is being trialled in Super Rugby.

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“We hope it could be in place for the World Cup,” Gilpin added. “The idea is to take that off-field and out of the cauldron of the stadium [so we] don’t ask that one match official alone makes that decision, and have the first seven or eight minutes of a yellow card used [instead] as a foul-play review meeting.

“I think what we will see there is more consistent, better decision-making and the referees in particular have really bought into that process.”

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