All Blacks may not compete in 2015 World Cup

New Zealand Rugby Union’s Chief Executive Steve Tew believes there is a chance New Zealand might not play in the 2015 World Cup in England because they may not be able to afford it.

Tew hit out at the costs of playing in the tournament, revealing that the NZRU would “lose NZ$13.2m [£6.7m] from participating despite the fact they have home advantage.

He added that the issue of spiralling costs needed to be addressed by the International Rugby Board (IRB) before New Zealand’s national board would commit to sending those in a New Zealand Shirt to play in the World Cup in four years’ time.

“We think we are at a really important juncture,” he said. “We want a couple of things taken very seriously around the IRB table. One is the money that flows through and out of Rugby World Cup. It is well publicised that the major unions lose a significant amount of money net by participating in the tournament and that makes absolutely no sense.

“We lose NZ$13.2m [£6.7m] worth of revenue after income from Rugby World Cup and costs are adjusted. It cannot carry on. We said at the last board conference that we needed a full review of the IRB’s financial model, Rugby World Cup commercial rules and RWC money flows. We are waiting with some anxiety what the IRB are going to do about it.

“The IRB did put an extra £1m on the table for the major unions six months ago which helped and which was appreciated, but frankly the prospects of us going to England in 2015 under the current model are very slim. We cannot continue to sign on for an event that costs us so much money.

“We need to have serious discussions and some creative thinking to help us approach the next World Cup in a positive manner. I am not saying we will not be involved in 2015, but you either reform things through an evolutionary process or you plant a dag in the ground and say it’s time to change.”

Tew was in charge when the NZRU announced its biggest ever financial loss – NZ$15.9 million for 2009 – but said his hands were tied by rules which means teams are not allowed to have an association with a sponsor during the tournament, a law designed to stop a conflict of interests with World Cup sponsors.

“The commercial rules for the tournament for participating unions are, we believe, far too tough, much tougher than Fifa’s.” Tew commented.

“If this was a soccer World Cup, the All Blacks’ hotel would be decked out with our sponsors until Thursday (before a Saturday game). In a Rugby World Cup, our sponsors do not get a look-in. They are very excluded.”

“All we want is what is best for world rugby. New Zealand and Australia tend to have to bang the table pretty hard at times to get people to listen. Our approach has always been to do things by negotiation and discussion and try to reach collaborative decisions, but ultimately you have to get something.”

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