Increased funding to strengthen rugby in New Zealand     19 Sep 2013    

- Provincial Unions to gain additional $7.7 million funding through to 2015
- $0.8 million contestable fund to support NZR Towards 2016 goals
- Rugby cash reserves to be maintained at a minimum $50 million to 2015

An overall increase of $1.9 million (19 percent) for the 14 ITM Cup Provincial Unions is made up of $1.1 million of additional direct funding from New Zealand Rugby and $0.8 million benefit through the recently signed Collective Employment Agreement for professional rugby players.

The twelve Pink Batts Heartland Championship Provincial Unions will collectively receive an increase of $304,000 (13 percent) including a minimum increase of $20,000 to each Provincial Union.

The new investment of $7.7 million is in addition to $16.8 million identified as part of New Zealand Rugby’s three-year Community Strategy and $25 million of direct funding already committed to Provincial Unions over the same period.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said the ability to provide additional funding to the 26 member unions was down to the improved financial footing of New Zealand Rugby.

“Thanks to our efforts to contain costs and increase revenue, we’re now in a position to share some of the benefit of a strong balance sheet with Provincial Unions, while also maintaining appropriate reserves for New Zealand Rugby at a minimum of $50 million at least through to 2015.

“The additional funding of $7.7 million announced today means New Zealand Rugby is contributing more than $50 million to Provincial Unions and to support the game in New Zealand through to 2015.

“We’ve carefully balanced the increased funding to our member unions against the long term financial outlook for rugby in New Zealand and are confident that the additional funding is prudent, maintains an appropriate level of reserves, provides a level of certainty for Provincial Unions and helps further support all levels of rugby.

“Notwithstanding the commitment of additional funding, the operating environment for unions remains challenging and the support of sponsors, partners and fans remains essential if we are to keep New Zealand’s game strong.”

The funding includes increased payments made to Provincial Unions based on registered player numbers by increasing the per player amount from $45 to $50. In addition the benefits arising from the latest players' Collective Employment Agreement includes a reduction in the salary cap, altered player payment levels, and greater compensation for All Blacks who are unavailable due to their Investec Rugby Championship commitments.

A contestable fund of $300,000 per annum, increased to $500,000 in 2015 will be made available for Provincial Unions to fund initiatives specific to New Zealand Rugby’s strategic goals of Towards 2016, while $200,000 is earmarked to support programmes with Provincial Unions in the Auckland region to make rugby the sport of choice across the region.

An annual funding top-up of $140,000 for age grade tournament support and $500,000 for a high performance talent identification programme reinforces New Zealand Rugby’s commitment to retain teenagers in the game and to help ensure effective pathways for our most talented teens through to the professional level.

A mid-term assessment of funding to Provincial Unions was committed to as part of the five-year funding cycle from 2011-2015 in the event the financial environment changed over the period.