NZRU should buy a UK club team

August 12, 2007

Steven Kempton (a.k.a. The Asia Pacific Headhunter) makes an excellent suggestion:

I’d prefer NZ did something to try and buy a rugby club in the UK. I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen for years that it’s in the NZRU’s best interests to try and purchase a UK club to extend the AB’s brand and also to give the players an option to play overseas but return, same with coaches. You’re in Wellington Rowan, walk down the road and give Jock Hobbs a word for me…

Interesting idea! The NZRU model is to contract all players to the national union. This makes for clear priorities: All Blacks, Super 14, then NPC (there is a bit of confusion where the Sevens team fits into this, but I’ll overlook that for now). The European model is quite different. They seem to prefer a football-style setup, where the best players from all over the world are contracted to the European club sides (at massive salaries) and only “released” to play for their national teams at the clubs leisure. As a consequence they are more than happy to pay top dollar/pound to contract the best players from NZ, and really don’t care that the NZRU policy means that these players are then not available for international selection. And it means that international sides that tour NZ in their off-season are often missing many of the top players. One thing is for sure: we don’t have much influence sitting down here and trying to tell them what we think they should do. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! There is lots to like about Steven suggestion:

So, you tell me: why couldn’t this happen? Mr. Hobbs?