Who would have remembered the Blues, unusually among Super Rugby franchises in New Zealand, has a private shareholding? Little has been heard of or from the independent stakeholder since he bought 40 per cent of the franchise in 2013. The declining fortunes of the team and thinning crowds at Eden Park have probably not enriched him and he would surely be open to the buy-back by NZ Rugby that Gregor Paul reports today.

But whether that will turn the Blues' fortunes around, as NZR are reported to believe, is doubtful.

The board has been divided at times, as in 2015 when the independent directors did not support those from Auckland Rugby who wanted to replace John Kirwan as coach at that time. NZR mediated an agreement for Kirwan to be replaced by Tana Umaga and the constitution of the board was changed to give Auckland, North Harbour and Northland Rugby a majority of directors.

But NZR reportedly believes rugby's influence on the board is still not strong enough. Hence the buy-out.

Advertisement

Well, desperate times ... But it is hard to agree the chronic underperformance of the Blues has much to do with the expertise in the boardroom. Unless the private stakeholder, businessman Murray Bolton, is a hobbyist, he will have appointed directors he trusts to put the right people in key positions.

Auckland produces many great rugby players but too few play for the Blues. Somebody will be able to change the culture and keep the players but that leader is unlikely to be in the boardroom. Look to the coach.