NZRU issues license for new Chiefs franchise

12:17, Dec 10 2013
Liam Messam
TEST MATCH INTENSITY: All Black Liam Messam in action for the Chiefs against the Crusaders.

The Taranaki Rugby Football Union has joined the Chiefs as part of a seven-year licence issued by New Zealand Rugby for the new Chiefs Rugby Club to run the Super Rugby franchise.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew announced the move at the Chiefs' Ruakura base today.

In the joint deal, which will take two Chiefs home games to New Plymouth in each of the next two seasons, the Waikato, Counties Manukau, Thames Valley, Bay of Plenty, King Country and Taranaki provincial unions will provide 50 per cent of a $3.3 million investment in the organisation.

The other half will be provided by private investors from Waikato, Taranaki and, for the first time in New Zealand Super Rugby franchises, overseas through Mauritius-based Chiefs fan and businessman Eric Series.

The Hamilton-based company Gallagher Group will increase its current sponsorship of the Chiefs in 2016 to take over naming rights,  when the team will become known as the Gallagher Chiefs.

Chiefs chairman Dallas Faisher said it had been a significant project over the last nine months to pull together the commercial structures required to make such a deal possible.

The business capital brought into the Chiefs would be deployed to a number of investment projects including the purchase of new strength and conditioning equipment, rehabilitation systems and the improvement of outside training facilities.

An establishment board has been set up to appoint a new board of seven members, which will include five independent directors and two investor appointees. The process is expected to take two months.

Next year's home games to be played in New Plymouth will be against the Blues on Friday, May 9, and the Waratahs three weeks later on Saturday, May 31. Waikato Stadium will host the other six home games with Pukekohe and Mt Maunganui missing out.

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