The New Zealand Rugby Union are reported to be demanding a fifty-fifty split with the Rugby Football Union for an out-of-window international test match against England next year.
This means that New Zealand are doubling their fee from before their second successive World Cup victory of £1.5 million pounds to £3 million of the overall £6 million which is generated from a test match at Twickenham. However the RFU have dismissed the sum as extortionate and the test will not go ahead.
This spout stands as the latest in a series of stand offs between the NZRU chief executive Steve Tew and his English counterpart Ian Ritchie regarding money and in particular the fifty-fifty split. After it was revealed during the week that NZRU will leave World Rugby should the parameters of a global season not be put in place, it seems now that financial issues are making their way to the fore yet again.
As the undisputed leader in the game of rugby, the NZRU feels that it is deserving of more of the pot from a game in which they compete due to their sheer star attraction. Whether you agree or disagree with the sentiment, Steve Tew and co. have not been afraid to throw their weight around in order to reap superior financial rewards.
The NZRU has already turned down an end-of-tour fixture with the Barbarians in order to pursue a match with a Rest of World XV as this is poised to earn them a greater sum for their appearance.
A senior British figure said: “With no international fixtures yet arranged after the 2019 World Cup, the All Blacks are playing hardball. They’ve made their position clear: ‘We’re not coming to play you guys in the north unless we get the global season that suits us, ie from February to November.’
“They are exploring the American market. But whatever exposure they get from this year’s match against Ireland in Chicago will be nothing compared to the exposure they get as a brand in the UK and Europe.
“Their sponsors, AIG and Adidas, won’t be happy unless they are being promoted world-wide. They’re not going to get that if they price themselves out of the biggest market in England.’’
Such incentive and behaviour by the rugby world’s predominant unions is a worrying indicator of the current context in which the game is headed as rising sums of money become more of a turbulent issue. With a tense standoff between the English and New Zealand unions already having surfaced, one would feel that this will only intensify as the global season negotiations are protracted.
But as is with human nature, money corrupts and it would appear that this greed is embodying itself in the form of the NZRU who take one look at the significantly larger stadiums in Europe and feel that they are deserving of a larger slice of the cake.
A leading British administrator said: “They look at Twickenham and see 82,000 people paying top dollar. They see 75,000 in Cardiff and they want a bigger slice of the action. They forget how many hundreds of millions the Home Unions have spent building their stadia.”
True, the All Blacks are the star attraction to any town in which they play, however, to demand in such a manner as they are goes entirely against the values and tradition of the game. With New Zealand Rugby Union already having turned their back on one of rugby’s long lasting practices, the Barbarians, in favour of a larger purse, these money-motivated actions do not bode well for the game and its morals; but then again, are we being naive to expect anything else?