Rugby World Cup
In a major turnaround, the International Rugby Board has said that New Zealand is an option to stage another Rugby World Cup tournament.
The successful 2011 tournament, won by the All Blacks, was largely accepted as the last time the country would host rugby's showpiece, with any future bids likely only as a junior partner to Australia.
But the new chief executive of the IRB, Brett Gosper, told the Sunday Star-Times during a visit to New Zealand that he believes a repeat sole hosting is a viable option.
Gosper's predecessor, Mike Miller, had warned prior to the 2011 tournament that the new economic model around the World Cup would likely preclude New Zealand bidding on a sole basis again.
But Gosper rejected that status.
"No, no, not at all," he said to suggestions the country's days as a sole host were over. "I think it will take a while to come back to New Zealand, you've had it twice, and we've only had seven tournaments.
"It will happen, though it won't happen over the next few World Cups for sure.
"Why would you rule it out? It was very successful [in 2011]. Of course in local ticketing you fell a little bit short of the money you would perhaps have liked to make, but not beyond what you were forecasting, and given the economic boon it gave to the area it was very worthwhile doing.
"The World Cup was brilliant here. It refilled the reserves we spend on the game, so Rugby World Cup is in a great position as we head towards 2015 [in England] which will be, I think, record-breaking in all, if not most, criteria.
"I think you'll step back up again one day, though I don't know when that will be."
Gosper's words will be welcomed in New Zealand but the news isn't quite so bright regarding a couple of New Zealand's hobby-horses around the international game - the possibility of a global season, and revenue-sharing of gates from test matches.
Gosper made it clear that while both were noble objectives the IRB had reached an impasse in terms of getting all nations on the same page.
"It seems at the moment it's very difficult," said Gosper of attaining a global season which might lessen the workload on players and also allow some marquee inter-hemisphere fixtures to be added.
"Some very intelligent and talented people have sat there for days on end to try to work this out and it's not happened. I don't think it's through want of trying, but it really is a very cluttered programme. We haven't given up but there's not a huge amount of heart to get back in a room again just in the meantime."
And it was a similar story on the way revenue is generated from tests.
"There no imminent movement on that," said Gosper of a system that very much benefits the northern hemisphere more than the south. The same went for the current June and November test windows.
"A bit like a ref who's pleased his scrum hasn't collapsed, there's a little bit of: ‘We've got all this in order, windows are set, everyone's agreed, so let's just let this run for a while.' "
- © Fairfax NZ News