The All Blacks' global domination could have further multimillion dollar spinoffs for New Zealand rugby - but only if they can be achieved without compromising the performance of the team.
New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew, who's been consulting power brokers from both the sport and business world in a busy month on tour, has confirmed there is considerable interest from a number of international companies wanting to be involved with the all-conquering All Blacks.
But Tew also said there would not be any additions to the already bulging sponsorship stable without careful consideration and analysis, with the All Blacks team's performance levels the ultimate guiding light.
"We've got a pretty full portfolio, and can only commit a certain amount of activity before it starts to impede performance," said Tew.
"We've probably met another 10 prospects who are very interested in what we do. But we've got to be able to shape a partnership that would be deliverable and productive and appropriate.
"There's no lack of interest, no question about that. Winning a World Cup and the way these guys have performed the last two years has certainly raised our profile. There are plenty of organisations keen to talk."
But Tew cautioned against expecting another AIG to be added - a deal said to be worth in the region of $80 million to New Zealand rugby.
"We only enter relationships with organisations we think are appropriate and have expectations and deliverables we can meet. That's a long process."
Also encouraging in terms of the new Sanzar agreement, which Tew said remained very much a work in progress, are indications of buoyancy in the television rights market globally.
"We can be encouraged by the fact all the people I've spoken to in the broadcast business see rugby as a very attractive content option, and I'm increasingly hopeful there will be genuine competition in most markets we broadcast in for whatever Sanzar ends up agreeing to.
"That's hugely encouraging - we've just got to work our way through what that competition looks like..."
Tew was hopeful something more concrete could be hammered out over the next three to four months, but the only common ground involves a sixth team in South Africa and potential Argentine representation.
There remains tensions around what the three countries' preferences are, and in the meantime some draw options are being put together so things like costs, schedules and travel can be assessed.
The IRB's talkfest in Dublin last week was more about the gathering of the rugby world than solving any pressing issues, but Tew confirmed working parties, with New Zealand involvement, had been established to look at the global season and the international body's governance.
"The reality is we do play the game in two completely different seasons, so to have a logical global season is quite challenging. And it's all irrelevant if they don't sort out the battle they're having at the moment with the clubs."
Tew also said he could not confirm speculation Christchurch was set to miss out on a test on the 2014 calendar, with only a midweek game being offered against the touring English side. Napier is also being talked about as a possible venue for next year's internationals.
"We haven't signed off on any venues for 2014," he said.
"We've still got some work to do on that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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