Super Rugby sell off begins
December 2, 2011
NZRU cheif executive Steve Tew © Getty Images
The New Zealand Rugby Union has stepped up its plans to re-vamp the Super Rugby landscape by inviting bids to take over four of the franchises.
Concerns over the current Super Rugby model have prompted radical change and having accepted the need to reinvigorate the brands, the NZRU has now issued a public invitation for expressions of interest to manage and operate the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Crusaders. The Highlanders are already some way down the track to a new operating model and are excluded from the process. Expressions of interest will be accepted up to March 9, and formal agreements reached by the end of June 2012, with a view to taking over for the 2013 season.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the NZRU will continue to hold the intellectual property rights of each brand and be responsible for contracting players and coaches. Additionally, all costs currently met centrally by the NZRU or SANZAR would be retained.
"We think it's a very exciting opportunity for rugby in this country," said NZRU chief executive Steve Tew. "The aim of this exercise is to reinvigorate the franchise model, which we believe is now necessary, [and to] bring some fresh ideas to the table.
"We've got an opportunity on the back of Rugby World Cup, where the game is sitting in a good space, to launch into a new era. We also accept some fresh capital into the game will be very helpful in these financial times that continue to be pretty challenging for anybody who's in the entertainment space, as we are."
Tew said prospective licence holders would need "seven figure numbers" in the bank but stressed that the franchises had made considerable profits in the past. The granting of licences would initially be for three years, to marry up with the current SANZAR agreement, but the NZRU are keen to make these longer term in time.
"It's the opportunity to be involved in one of the greatest rugby competitions in the world," Tew said. "[There's] a chance for them to, if they are from the region these franchises are currently based, to anchor them there and make sure there's no threat to them ever moving. As the guys who have gone in and backed the Phoenix have done, [it's a chance to] be part of the city's landscape going forward. And ultimately, if the people that come forward believe they can do so, there's money to be made. It's just in the current environment we are not over-promising."
The Canterbury Rugby Union are reportedly interesting in taking over the Crusaders while the NZRU are also prepared to still guide those sides that fail to attract a suitable licence holder. "We are in effect testing the market for the first time in this country," Tew said. "We are looking to go beyond rugby and we are quite happy to go beyond the borders of New Zealand. We'll make it very clear, though, these teams will be New Zealand-owned and will continue to play in our competition in New Zealand. It's possible we'll partner up with someone offshore, but the team and its interests will remain in this country.
"We're unsure about what response we'll get. The bookend is we won't get any interest and we'll have to think of another way of dealing with this, or we may get a number of very good quality applicants. The current international economic climate is not going to change. We have to adapt to it. That has been one of the drivers of us doing things differently."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen