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New Zealand Rugby
All Blacks eye World Cup windfall
Scrum.com
July 1, 2010
New Zealand's Conrad Smith celebrates a try from Keven Mealamu, New Zealand v Wales, Carisbrook, Dunedin, New Zealand, June 19, 2010
The All Blacks could celebrate an added financial bonus if they are successful at the World Cup © Getty Images
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The All Blacks will have an added incentive to lift the Rugby World Cup on home soil in 2011, with a NZ$100,000 windfall possibly awaiting them thanks to a new collective employment agreement between the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the NZ Rugby Players Association (NZRPA).

The agreement, spanning 2010-12, also makes provisions for Super 15 franchises to contract players directly, regardless of their provincial allegiances. They will also be able to call on two overseas players in their squads.

The possible payout awaiting the All Blacks is formed by a NZ$35,000 bonus if they make the World Cup Final on home soil, and another NZ$65,000 if they bring the title back to New Zealand for the first time since 1987.

There will also be contractual changes for top players, with their NZRU contracts being replaced by an NZ Rugby deal. The newly-coined NZ Rugby contracts can include a Super Rugby retainer (with an annual maximum of NZ$180,000) and an NZRU retainer which will have no upper limit.

Super Rugby players will also benefit, with the minimum retainer increasing to NZ$70,000 next year, an increase of NZ$5,000. Players drafted in from outside the initial 28-man squad, through the draft or other means, will receive a minimum of NZ$60,000, while another 40 players will be handed wider training group contracts with a minimum retainer of NZ$20,000.

At provincial level, in the ITM Cup, regions must contract at least 26 players, excluding Tri-Nations All Blacks, on a minimum annual retainer of NZ$15,000. At this level the maximum salary for a player is NZ$60,000 while veterans, who have played eight seasons or more for the same union, are entitled to up to NZ$90,000.

A provincial union may contract an unlimited number of players on development contracts, and will also receive NZ$35,000 for any player selected in the initial All Blacks Tri-Nations squad. At provincial level, the salaray cap will no longer contain notional values, although discounts for All Blacks, former All Blacks and veteran players will continue. Clubs must work within the confines of a NZ$1.35 million salary cap (36% of a union's commercial revenue, based on audited accounts from the previous two years).

The agreement also confirmed the previously discussed changes to the ITM Cup from next year, with two divisions of seven teams and a promotion-relegation system.

"It has taken significant work to get here but there has been tremendous goodwill and effort by all those involved. Today marks the culmination of that work from players, the NZRPA, provincial unions, franchises and the NZRU," NZRU general manager Neil Sorenson said.

Despite the potential windfall, veteran fullback Mils Muliaina insists winning for the fans will be what drives the All Blacks during next year's showpiece event.

"We've had the situation before where we've talked about bonuses and things like that and I think now you get to the stage where you just want to win the thing," he said. "Although there is, I suppose, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. it's certainly not an incentive for us to go out there and win it. The incentive is to win it for the people."

However Muliaina, who played in the past two tournaments, was pleased the collective agreement had been reached before World Cup year. In 2003, the issue of the level of bonuses the All Blacks should be paid led to a standoff between the players and the NZRU.

"I think it was a bit niggly for us back then," Muliaina said. "It's nice to have not only that, but the whole collective being sorted. It just gives guys in the franchises an opportunity to get secure incomes and things like that. It's great to have that done and dusted before World Cup year."

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