NZ Rugby accuses Players’ Association of misrepresentation over US deal

All Black Dane Coles
All Black Dane Coles ... "It's not a case of 'show me the money'." Image: RNZ/Photosport

By Barry Guy, RNZ News sports reporter

New Zealand Rugby is accusing the Players’ Association of misrepresenting the reasons for their opposition to the Silver Lake deal.

Thursday’s NZR annual general meeting unanimously backed the selling of a minority stake in its commercial arm to the US private equity firm.

Holding up the NZ$387.5 million (($281.8m) deal is the sign-off from the players, with All Blacks hooker Dane Coles yesterday saying the reservations were not just about the money.

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey questioned the players representatives.

“I do believe that the Players Association have not represented exactly what their position is, which was we are opposed to the deal philosophically but we’ll give that away if you give us more money,” said Impey.

Mediation between New Zealand Rugby and the Players’ Association is currently on hold.

Coles had said that they weren’t about to be rushed into any decision.

‘No rush to get into it’
“There’s no rush to get into it, this is a very big decision and it’s something we could look back on in a hundred years [and say] why did we make that decision, or we look back in a hundred years and be glad we made that decision,” Coles said.

“I know the Players’ Association have got the players best interest at heart.”

“If it was about the money we would say yes, but it’s not about the money, it’s about leaving the game in the best hands and having the future as bright as we can and looking after everyone,” said Coles.

Impey said the deal would help the game at all levels.

“This is a commercial deal and is therefore going to benefit clubs, the 26 provinces and everybody in the game by getting money into it,” he said.

“Eighty percent of what we spend on rugby goes into the professional game, only 20 percent goes into the community game and so we need to change the paradigm because the game is struggling big time in our community, so this is all about money.”

Impey said the Players’ Association wanted 40 percent of what was coming in.

The Players Association has not commented since yesterday’s vote was taken at the New Zealand Rugby AGM.

Impey said Silver Lake was delighted with yesterday’s vote and they were being very patient over the ongoing stand-off with the players.

“We will go back into good faith bargaining [with the Players’ Association] over the next few weeks, but we are hopeful we will be able to strike a deal.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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