Northland Rugby Union chairman Andrew Ritchie has launched a broadside at the Rugby Players' Association and Forsyth Barr for undermining the Silver Lake deal that he says is in the best interests of rugby in the country.
On Friday players association chief executive Rob Nichol provided media with a copy of a memo sent to directors of NZ Rugby (NZR) and provincial union chairs.
The association also provided advice it received from investment bankers Forsyth Barr around an alternative capital raising option for NZ Rugby that involved a public share float of a five per cent stake in NZR.
NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson responded by saying the NZRPA's actions were a breach of trust, and that it was out to destroy the deal with US investment giant Silver Lake.
Silver Lake has offered to inject $385 million into NZ Rugby in return for a 12.5 per cent stake in the game, a proposal that has been backed by provincial unions.
The move by the association, and Forsyth Barr's involvement, have angered Ritchie, who said the banker's proposal is an unfortunate and shameful distraction that lacks the substance to deliver the benefits to grassroots New Zealand rugby of the existing Silver Lake deal.
He said, by contrast, the Silver Lake deal ensures a very bright future for New Zealand Rugby at all levels -- from the country's best representative players to the grassroots communities in the heartland.
"This is about delivering so much more than just the significantly higher sum of money going to all levels of NZ rugby in the Silver Lake proposal but also the benefits of a global sports distribution network that will elevate rugby to levels we have never experienced before and open new opportunities, including for the women's game,'' Ritchie said.
Ritchie said Forsyth Barr's ideas are not as good for the future of New Zealand rugby.
He said the NZR and Silver Lake proposal would bring a host of other benefits to grassroots rugby.
"We know at Northland Rugby that the Silver Lake deal will also enable us to introduce programmes to raise even further the skill levels of all our players, from representative to a community level, through to investing in new technologies to assist the growth of rugby and platforms to take our national game to new, wider audience segments."
Ritchie said the decision by the NZ Rugby Players' Association to leak confidential information was "immature'' and "not in good faith''.
He said the future of New Zealand rugby for the next 50 years depended on bringing much-needed support to the grassroots game, as well as taking the game to the next level internationally.
"We know emotions are running high because rugby is so dear to all our hearts. However, we also need to understand that the many communities across New Zealand are the lifeblood of rugby and the Silver Lake proposal is the only actual proposal that will unlock the potential of the sport.
''It alone will provide the sustainable capital to improve infrastructure from clubrooms to the use of technology to better develop player skills at all levels of the game. New Zealand Rugby will only get one shot at this and the Silver Lake proposal is an outstanding opportunity to secure a bright future for our national game."
Ritchie said it's worth remembering that the players' representatives also started at the grassroots level and this is where the support was most needed.
"New Zealand rugby cannot continue to perform and grow as a local, national or international game unless we have the financial certainty to properly support the game in the heartland. The grassroots is where all players start their association with rugby, right through to the All Blacks, but unless we nurture our community game we cannot have a future.
''The Silver Lake deal is the only one on the table that locks in that support for the communities and grassroots rugby - we should embrace it including the players' representatives because this is where they all began their careers too."
He said the provincial rugby unions have voted unanimously for the Silver Lake proposal which is a "win-win" opportunity for New Zealand rugby and the communities that provide the support for our national game.
''Let's not make this a political football and but get on with delivering the benefits to grassroots rugby and provide a bright and certain future for the game," Ritchie said.