Hopes All Blacks will play more than just the Wallabies this year

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson. Photo: Photosport

New Zealand Rugby is confident the All Blacks will play more than just tests against Wallabies this year as the sport battles back from the global pandemic.

The national body is facing a financial crisis, warning revenue will be down 70 percent this year, on top of a $7.5 million loss last year.

Half its 180-strong workforce are facing job cuts and staff have already have their wages cut, as have players earning over $50,000.

There’s glimmer of light with Super Rugby Aotearoa starting next week with the five New Zealand franchises playing a revamped 10 week competition.

At the moment games will be at empty stadiums, but crowds could be present for the first weekend of action should the country move to alert level one.

Provincial rugby’s Mitre 10 Cup is slated to start in September and the women’s Farah Palmer Cup in August, but there are questions over whether the competition is sustainable for provincial unions financially.

At international level, Rugby Australia is in talks with its government about allowing New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina’s teams to enter the country and be based in a “hub” for a condensed Rugby Championship later in the year.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson told Nine to Noon all options are on the table, including playing Pacific Island teams and the northern hemisphere nations.

However, he said nothing is yet confirmed and the Australian hub is speculation.

“The most likely international scenario we can see at the moment is playing some sort of international rugby in the last quarter of the year.

“We are talking to all different parties some – [the] northern hemisphere, our SANZAAR partners for trans-Tasman bubbles or the Pacific – they could be a team.”

Further complicating matters is the ongoing speculation South African teams are set to ditch Super Rugby to play in European competitions.

A report in South African newspaper Rapport, claimed the Lions, Bulls, Stormers and Sharks could join the PRO14 as early as next year but by 2023 at the latest.

Robinson said the SANZAAR partners have a broadcast deal for Super Rugby to 2026, but he wouldn’t rule out South Africa pulling the pin much earlier than that.

“There’s a lot of media speculation around all the joint venture (competitions)…

“But what is important is that we go to these meetings and get everything on the table and understand where each of the parties is at and try to work through the challenges.”

 

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