Announcement due on Crusaders licence

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012
Corey Flynn, Andy Ellis and Dan Carter
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Crusaders Corey Flynn, Andy Ellis and Dan Carter.

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The details of the Crusaders' licence arrangement should be known within days.

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), which along with a Crusaders region consortium has agreed in principle to the licence, was expected to make an announcement about the new operation on Tuesday. Despite the delay, understood to be because the NZRU was still finalising paperwork on the new contract, Crusaders chairman Murray Ellis did not expect any surprises.

"We are just waiting for the New Zealand Rugby Union to push the button on this," Ellis said yesterday.

"As far as we are concerned, we are all ready to go," he said.

"We are hoping the announcement will be [made] within the next couple of days or early next week."

While Christchurch-based coalminer Brent Francis will underwrite the franchise, all six provincial unions will retain an involvement in operating the franchise.

A new board is expected to be formed after an appointment committee has assessed candidates. It is likely the NZRU will have some involvement in this process but will not be officially represented.

It also seems likely the Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) will not have such a heavy presence on the board - something that has been a source of friction for some representatives of the smaller unions under the current Crusaders structure.

Instead, more independent directors are likely to be vetted.

Ellis would not comment on whether Hamish Riach, chief executive of the Crusaders and Canterbury, would automatically be appointed Crusaders boss or whether the role would be advertised.

What is certain is that Riach's days of heading both organisations are numbered.

CRFU chairman Stew Mitchell declined to comment last week when asked if his organisation had made arrangements to replace Riach if he switched to the Crusaders.

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