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Thread: The G9 speaks out

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    The G9 speaks out

    The G9 speaks out

    Wed 22 Apr 2009

    Nine of New Zealand’s top flight provincial unions have written to the NZRU ahead of their AGM in Wellington expressing their “grave concerns” for the future of the national game.

    The letter is from the group dubbed G9 - all the Air New Zealand Cup unions without a Super Rugby based franchise.

    These are Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Northland, North Harbour, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu, Tasman and Southland.

    The five Super 14 bases of Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago, were not signed in the letter.

    Addressed to NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs and leaked to media today the letter states if the Super 14 is expanded and the ANZC further dumbed down of quality players, “then rugby in New Zealand, as we currently know it, will be stuffed by the 2019 World Cup”.

    The G9 requested that NZRU to continue with the current status of Super Rugby with 14 teams playing February to June, which will “provide much needed time to not only get the right competition but also get consensus and buy-in by all stakeholders”.
    NZRU officials will meet with the non-Super Rugby base provinces to discuss their concerns’ over the future.

    Hobbs confirmed that meeting, but added many of the fears in the letter were misplaced.
    “We are not prepared to compromise our domestic competitions.”

    In their message the G9 cited crowd numbers at the Hurricanes versus Highlanders Super 14 game at Westpac Stadium as an example of the diminished interest from fans in franchise-based, rather than provincial-based fixtures.
    Crowd numbers at the game were officially listed at 10,136 fans, but the letter claims the ‘actual attendance’ was 8300.
    “This was for a fixture that would have previously have drawn a crowd in excess of 25,000 and in a stadium with a capacity of 34,500 (it) clearly illustrates that Super rugby is a tired concept.”

    The letter also requests the NZRU roll over the current Super rugby broadcasting agreement until the end of 2011 - "which would provide much needed time to not only get the right competition, but also get consensus and buy-in by all stakeholders."

    The G9 believe the NZRU is in favour at the proposal on the Sanzar table for a conference-based Super 15 competition, which would run most of the year.
    It wants the Air New Zealand Cup to be given the same status as South Africa's Currie Cup, with the SARU vehemently opposed to any expanded Super Rugby competition which would keep its best players out of the provincial league.
    “The group is concerned that if NZRU dumb down the Air New Zealand Cup as reflected in the financial modelling produced to date then rugby in New Zealand as we currently know it will be stuffed by the 2019 World Cup.”

    The G9 outlined it wants an NPC competition in this country to be competitive, have full participation of Super 14 players, be financially sustainable, have NZRU and provincial union investment, be 100% televised, and operate in a clear window for games – with no other commitments for players.

    They also want a relevant salary cap where all participating provincial unions can afford to pay up to a minimum of 80 per cent, and a review of the future NPC participation principles regarding whether to continue with the current 14 teams or adopting a three-tier structure with the possibility of promotion/relegation.

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    You can't always get what you want comes to mind. I doubt the ANZ Cup has the capacity to generate enough money to keep players of the standard the non-franchise unions and their supporters want to see in their teams. The lure of the Euro would be stronger than it is now. Not sure of the financial logistics of Currie Cup.

    The professional Rugby genie is well and truly out of the bottle and no way it's going back in, no matter what some might wish for. It's going to take some creative thinking and a "common good" approach by all stakeholders in the Pacific Unions to get over these hurdles. Pressure from the non franchise unions in NZ and the stonewalling of the Saffas may give momentum to the "Pacific Solution" as the way forward ? But even if that eventuates, not every union's wishes will be affordable.




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