The NZRU will place advertisements this weekend in newspapers asking for expressions of interest to buy the licences for four of the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises.
Revolution in Super Rugby
Other than the Highlanders, who the NZRU are exploring alternative options for, the New Zealand franchises are available to be licensed.
The owner of the franchise will manage and operate, as well as choose which players are on the team’s books, although their salaries are still paid by the NZRU.
The decision to progress with invitations to submit expressions of interest follows an independent review of Super Rugby and the franchises in New Zealand and a period of consultation with Provincial Unions and Franchises.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said considering a licensee arrangement for the franchises made sense as it would provide the additional capital required to ensure the success of the franchises on and off the field.
“This is an early phase to get a real view of the level of interest in an opportunity to be associated with New Zealand’s brand of rugby and what is considered to be the world’s best rugby competition,” Tew said.
“The overwhelming feedback during consultation clearly pointed to the need to reinvigorate the franchise model.
“This unique opportunity to manage and operate a Super Rugby team is an exciting development for New Zealand rugby.
“We are hoping this invitation will generate interest from a broad range of both rugby and non-rugby individuals, organisations and consortiums.”
The successful licensee will have the right to manage, operate, select and promote the team/brand and the matches played by that team.
Under the licensee proposal, the NZRU will continue to own the brands and be responsible for contracting players and coaches.
“For now we have agreed to allow the Highlanders to stand aside from the process as they are already some way down the track with exploring other alternatives which are commercially sensitive,” Tew said.
Interested parties have until March 9, 2012 to confirm their interest in being granted a licence to manage and operate a Super Rugby team.
Any decision to grant a licence is expected to be made by the NZRU Board midway through 2012 and will be made in the best interests of rugby in New Zealand.
Any changes proposed would not be in place before the 2013 season. The 2012 Super Rugby competition is unaffected.
If suitable licensee candidates are identified, they will be shortlisted and the NZRU may then issue a request for proposal inviting the submission of detailed proposals.
Once these proposals have been evaluated, the NZRU may enter discussions with one or more preferred respondents.