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All Blacks fan experience to get a boost

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Lynn McConnell     23 May 2017     Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said they were aware of the technology advances occurring around the world and were keen for local fans to enjoy some of those benefits.

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Tew said the connection was looking at all levels of rugby interest.

While the fan at the games would be at the leading edge which was happening around the world's major sporting teams and franchises which were looking to make sure technology was part of the fan experience they were conscious that there were fans around the world who couldn't get to games who appreciated a share of the experience and they would also be catered for.

Tew said the agreement was not a rights deal, it was a commercial deal with a technology provider.

"But there is no doubt that the way content is broadcast, the way it is consumed, is changing virtually every day," he said.

The arrangement with Vodafone would help New Zealand Rugby be better prepared to utilise opportunity but they were not committing to anyone at this stage as the next rights negotiation was a long way away, he said.

"There's nothing we've agreed with Vodafone that we didn't already have the rights to do. We just haven't had a partner that's been prepared, and able, to do it. That will include a pretty significant upgrade of wifi around stadia because there's not much point having the hardware if you haven't got the bandwidth," he said.

It was hoped the bandwidth would be available at stadiums in New Zealand for the British & Irish Lions tour.

The announcement came on the same day New Zealand Rugby made the switch of the HSBC Sevens tournament from Wellington to new host Hamilton, and on the same day the annual Sevens series reached its finale in London with another below par effort by the All Blacks Sevens.

"We're all concerned. This has not been the series we would have wanted. I thought on day one in London the team played really well. There was a great result against Fiji but had a very poor second day and suffered the consequences.

"We'll let the guys come back, it's not for want of trying but we've got a new coach arriving shortly, there'll be a full review of this series and that will be fed into his start and we've got to do better or we'll always be fourth," Tew said.

The depth of talent available for sevens was challenging both in Olympic years and outside.

"We've seen, for the South African team, who are by far the best team on the circuit, consistently, they've got a group of players who had dedicated themselves to the sevens game and that is all they want to do. Whereas most of our players are seeing sevens as a pathway to a fifteens contract and they really want to play Investec Super Rugby.

"If we've got a problem, that's the problem. We've got five Super teams playing brilliant football and giving players an opportunity to go on and play for the All Blacks. It's not actually a bad problem to have but it's still a problem if you're trying to run a sevens team that has to compete in an increasingly competitive circuit," he said.