NZRU brings back big bucks from Twickenham

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 11/11/2012
Steve Tew
Photosport
STEVE TEW: "We now have much improved governance arrangements in place to ensure the board can focus on making the best decision in the interests of the Chiefs."

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The New Zealand Rugby Union's financial cake is about to be iced with the biggest one-off match fee in its history.

After banking a five-year sponsorship deal that's worth a reported $80 million with insurance giants AIG, the NZRU has negotiated a single payment of close to $4m for the All Blacks' final tour match, against England at Twickenham.

The substantial fee is guaranteed and isn't dependent on gate takings.

In 2008, the NZRU pocketed just over $1m from the All Blacks match at Twickenham, and again in 2009, and that figure is thought to have increased to $2m for the game against the Barbarians at the same venue.

This year's deal was secured because the clash with England falls outside of the International Rugby Board's schedule and it included three-match tours by the New Zealand Maori and women's Black Ferns teams .

While satisfied, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew made it clear he expected the pulling power of the All Blacks to continually increase the lump sums.

"This is certainly the biggest fee we've negotiated," Tew told the Sunday Star-Times.

"We think it's just getting into the realms of fair, but could also be improved on. We've stepped up from what I would call a humble beginning.

"We are comfortable with the fee we are being paid this year. It is a significant amount of money and it's much more than we've had in the past in Europe. We think it now provides us with a benchmark for other discussions we have with unions up there."

The one-off payday represents big bucks for the NZRU, but it is chump change for the English Rugby Football Union, which will post a profit of £17.5m ($35m) after selling out all four matches against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and the All Blacks this year.

The polarising sponsorship deal and Twickenham cash-windfall mean the NZRU's coffers are now looking rosy, especially compared to before the AIG deal.

Splashing an American company's logo on the front of the All Blacks' jersey was risky, but Tew feels the New Zealand public have accepted the radical move.

"I think that to date it pretty much has [been accepted].

"There are obviously some people that are unhappy about adding something to the All Black jersey but I think most people are prepared to consider the wider context and issues we are dealing with," Tew said.

"If we are going to remain competitive, retain our players and develop the game at the community level then we are going to need to generate more money and do something different."

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