WRFU keen to buy licence for Canes franchise

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012
James Te Puni
KENT BLECHYNDEN/The Dominion Post
JAMES TE PUNI: "Wellington Rugby has put in a bid for the Hurricanes Super Rugby licence."

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The Wellington Rugby Union has confirmed its bid to buy the licence to run the Hurricanes franchise.

The New Zealand Rugby Union said this week it has moved into the final phase of negotiations after opening four of its five Super Rugby teams up to private investors.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew has revealed successful applicants would be announced next month, but won't say how many expressions of interest have been received or by whom.

However, Wellington rugby's chief executive James Te Puni was happy to confirm yesterday the union was keen to take control of the franchise's affairs.

“Wellington Rugby has put in a bid for the Hurricanes Super Rugby licence that NZRU opened to tender earlier this year," he said.

"We are waiting on official word through from NZRU on the progress of that bid and due to the commercially sensitive information involved with such a bid, we are unable to comment any further at this time.”

It's unclear whether Wellington are alone in seeking the Hurricanes' licence.

Tew said in March there had been five expressions of interest received and with the Highlanders not in the mix, that meant one of the four other franchises had two suitors.

"There are a mix of different approaches to this licensing opportunity and when we do finalise those they will tick the objectives we set out to achieve," he said this week. "The bottom line is it has to be good for rugby."

The main goals were to inject extra capital, sharpen governance and find some new approaches.

"All of the applications have got some provincial involvement."

One change since the process began is an agreement the initial three-year term was too short and there is likely to be an option for renewal for a further five years.

The NZRU will still have a say in appointing coaches, will centrally contract the players and determine the contracting budgets.

"We haven't put a lot our there for these investors, but interestingly there is enough out there that we think we'll be making some good announcements."

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- The Dominion Post

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