New Zealand Rugby has announced an extensive review to futureproof the sport.

A release from NZR says they - as well as the 26 provincial unions and five Super Rugby franchises - will review how they deliver the sport and ensure it's sustainable.

NZR boss Mark Robinson said that while rugby has had a structure that's served well for more than 125 years, the time is right to look at how best it can thrive as society changes.

"We're experiencing an unparalleled period of change as the world is now closer, our communities are larger and connecting in modern and immediate ways, and new generations are engaging differently in activities centred around sport, entertainment and leisure," said Robinson. "Now is the time to take a look at whether we can be better prepared for what the future holds.

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"Rugby is under pressure in many parts of the game, from participation, fan engagement, talent retention and increasingly tough financial environments.

Out and About. Kids Rugby at Blake Park. Tauranga Sport under 8's versus Greerton Marist under 8. Theo Pritchard with the ball. Photo / Andrew Warner.
Out and About. Kids Rugby at Blake Park. Tauranga Sport under 8's versus Greerton Marist under 8. Theo Pritchard with the ball. Photo / Andrew Warner.

"We have seen significant growth in rugby since professionalism in 1996 but not all areas of the game have thrived in that environment and there is a never-ending drive to grow revenue and manage the cost base of the game.

"This is an important opportunity to stand back, look at the needs across all levels of rugby, from community to elite, and consider how we ensure that the legacy of this game continues well into the future. We want to ensure that rugby stays relevant and connected with fans and community, while still creating pathways and opportunities for emerging talent."

Stewart Mitchell said: "The objective of the Review is to assess current activities are fit for purpose, meaningful and cost effective, whilst at the same time, we are also looking for opportunities that keep people involved in rugby, ensure our game is sustainable and keep it part of New Zealand's treasured culture and identity."

NZR has appointed a consulting partner to bring independence and expertise to support this process. Any initial outcomes and recommendations will be shared with the Rugby community by end of May.