The process of radically changing the set-up of rugby in the country has started - with New Zealand Rugby today releasing some of the findings of an independent investigation into the state of the game.
As reported by the Herald yesterday, NZR has presented the findings of the McKinsey report to provincial unions - a new blueprint for how the game should be organised, managed and structured.
The purpose of the review was to address, among others, stagnant participation rates, increasing drop-out rates among teens and plunging spectator interest in Mitre 10 Cup and Super Rugby.
According to the report, NZR has identified the potential for a baseline of $20 million to $30m per annum for reinvestment into rugby and the consultation with all provincial unions, Super Rugby clubs and NZR will begin immediately.
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In a statement to media, NZR announced the review has identified a number of opportunities to grow revenue and remove inefficiencies - including a high performance pathway, expenditure optimisation, resourcing across rugby, domestic competitions and revenue growth opportunities.
The Herald understands that NZR is going to post a multi-million dollar loss for 2019 and is forecasting another for next year, hence its decision to engage consultancy group McKinsey earlier this year to investigate ways in which the sport can be restructured.
It is believed that NZR's broader vision sees provincial unions in a new role where they will mostly drive participation and administer the club game at a local level, leaving Super Rugby sides with greater responsibility to manage talent identification and development of elite players.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said consultation would now begin on the opportunities presented.
"We will now work closely with provincial unions and Super rugby clubs and other stakeholders to assess the review findings, and determine what is practical and desirable, to ensure that we continue to deliver rugby in a way that is economically viable and relevant to fans and the community.
"This is an important opportunity to stand back, look at the needs across all levels of rugby, from community to elite, and ensure we have the right priorities in place to keep boys, girls, men and women in New Zealand continuing to have a lifelong love of the game. We know that rugby in our regions has a rich and proud history and we want to maintain that connection.
"No decisions have been made. This next phase is about consultation and for rugby to determine which path we think is best for the game's future."
Consultation will commence immediately and take place during early March through workshops involving provincial unions, Super rugby clubs, NZR staff and other stakeholders.