'Sold their souls': Backlash over potential sale of All-Blacks

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
New Zealand Rugby will vote on whether or not to allow a US firm to invest in the All-Blacks. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
New Zealand Rugby will vote on whether or not to allow a US firm to invest in the All-Blacks. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby will on Thursday hold a vote on whether or not to allow a US-based private equity firm to invest more than $280 million (USD) in the All-Blacks franchise.

Debate has raged over the potential investment, with players reportedly unhappy the governing body is considering allowing the investment.

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Critics say New Zealand Rugby have 'sold their souls' to the investment group Silver Lake, suggesting the move would result in the All-Blacks playing meaningless exhibition games overseas.

There have also been concerns over the appropriation of Maori culture and the haka if the investment goes ahead.

Technology investment group Silver Lake are no strangers to investing in sport, having secured a 10 per cent stake in English Premier League outfit Manchester City back in 2019.

Manchester City were one of 12 clubs slated to take part in the much-maligned and now fraught plans to form a new European Super League.

NZR proposes transferring its commercial assets to a new company to be called Commercial LP and to transfer $NZ43.75m ($A40.6m) from the sale price to that entity as operating capital.

A further $NZ39 million ($A36m) will be distributed to stakeholders, mainly the provincial unions, who are also cash-strapped after last year's disrupted season.

NZR said it will also establish a legacy fund for "longer-term strategic initiatives to ensure the sustainability of all levels of rugby in New Zealand."

Stuff.co.nz sports columnist Mark Reason claimed Silver Lake had no interest in rugby as a sport and were only interested in making money.

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"They want to up NZR's paper value and then sell their share on as they have done numerous times before — cash in, more cash out," he wrote.

NZR embarked on a nationwide tour to sell the Silver Lake deal to provincial unions.

But the concept faced push-back from professional players who have sought assurances that important traditional and cultural symbols such as the silver fern and the All Blacks' haka will not be sold and commercialised. 

All-Blacks star mulling over NRL switch

TJ Perenara says he's deadly serious about considering a spectacular cross-code move to the Sydney Roosters, revealing he's harboured a dream to play in the NRL for years.

The All Blacks World Cup winner says he's won't make a decision until his Japanese Top League commitments with the Red Hurricanes are finished next month.

But the 29-year-old on Tuesday night said "there's a few different scenarios on the table" after speaking directly with Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

The most likely scenario is taking up a mid-season short-term deal with the Roosters before returning the Hurricanes in New Zealand Super Rugby next year.

All-Blacks star TJ Perenara is pondering a switch to the NRL. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
All-Blacks star TJ Perenara is pondering a switch to the NRL. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

"I would be doing the club and the boys that I've worked hard with an injustice by focusing on anything else besides our games coming up," Perenara said from Osaka.

There's a notion that Perenara could be angling for a better deal from New Zealand rugby but the 66-Test halfback said he honestly believed he could be a success at hooker for the Roosters as a replacement for recently retired co-captain Jake Friend.

"It's definitely genuine from both parties as well," Perenara said.

"It's something that would be a challenge and something that I've thought about throughout the course of my career.

"I've played league when I was a little bit younger so in contract years I've often thought about it but never engaged in conversations to the extent we're at now.

With AAP/AFP

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