Rugby: All Black test in Pacific Islands not viable - Tew

By Daniel Richardson

Steve Tew. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Steve Tew. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Despite recording another profit, the New Zealand Rugby won't be taking an All Black test to the Pacific Islands any time soon.

New Zealand Rugby hosted its annual meeting in Wellington yesterday as members farewelled long-standing chairman Mike Eagle and picked over a net profit of $2.9 million for the 2013 financial year.

The organisation has $63.7 million in cash reserves and has played test matches in Japan previously to boost its coffers and will head to the US later this year for a match.

But NZR chief executive Steve Tew said a game in the Pacific Islands still wasn't a viable option.

"For 2014 we are actually budgeting quite a significant loss, so if that's your answer for not going to the Islands then that would be your answer," Tew said.

"The reality for us is, and I've said it often enough, we have to do what's best for New Zealand Rugby and playing an All Blacks test match in the Islands just doesn't suit our programme. Right now we can't fit one in."

NZR has forecast a $1.1 million loss for the coming year as part of its increased funding to provincial unions, which have all improved recently after troubled times.

That loss won't be a major concern given New Zealand Rugby is likely to reap huge financial rewards from hosting the Lions in 2017.

New Zealand Rugby marked itself at 82/100 across the organisation for the past year. One area it fell down in was fan engagement and the retention of players and referees at grassroots level.

Dwindling crowds, particularly at the ITM Cup, were something they needed to focus on.

"One of the challenges for probably all sport, frankly, is the place we sit in the entertainment market and it's not getting any less competitive and it's not getting any easier," Tew said.

He also said he was not in a position to comment on the future of Super rugby but said a proposal would be put to broadcast partners by the first deadline of June 30.

A new chairman will be elected to replace Eagle at the next board meeting on May 29 and Graham Cooney will serve as acting chairman until then.

Stewart Mitchell was elected as the new southern zone representative for the board, while Andrew Golightly was voted on as the northern representative.

Peter Kean joined the board as an independent director.

- APNZ

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