Taranaki say no to slice of Hurricanes

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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Taranaki Rugby

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The Taranaki Rugby Football Union will not take up the offer of a 12.5 per cent share in the Hurricanes under their new financial model.

TRFU chief executive Neil Pennington confirmed yesterday his board had discussed the matter and declined the offer made by the Wellington Rugby Union.

The Wellington union hold a 50 per cent share of the new licence issued by the New Zealand Rugby Union to manage the Hurricanes.

Welnix Ltd, the owners of the Wellington Phoenix, have a 12.5 per cent share, with other private investors also taking a cut. There is a 12.5 per cent share still available to other rugby unions in the Hurricanes franchise.

"At this stage we are not in a position to pursue it and it's not in our best interests to do so," Pennington said, hinting the union still held strong aspirations of being involved in an expanded Super Rugby competition.

"We will continue to monitor it and they have given us to February but we're clearly looking at the cost-versus-benefit analysis."

The new owners will have the power to select players and market the Hurricanes while keeping the revenue from ticketing and sponsorship. The NZRU retains the ownership of the Hurricanes brand and pays the players and coaches from their multimillion-dollar broadcasting revenue.

The new Hurricanes board had given Taranaki an assurance that regional age-group tournaments would not be affected by the new structure. "That doesn't change if we invest in the Hurricanes or not," Pennington said.

He had no fears the new structure could impact on Taranaki being able to contract certain players to their national provincial championship squad.

Pennington also wanted to clarify that Taranaki had never shown an interest in taking over the Hurricanes as had been reported. "Taranaki has never pursued that specifically.

"Our mandate has always been around the expansion of Super Rugby or if negotiations had not been successful with other franchises, and no-one was prepared to step in, Taranaki was waiting in that space," he said.

"As it turned out, all the franchises which were available appeared to have bids."

Meanwhile, Taranaki will not host the Hurricanes in 2013, with the union preferring to focus on maximising the opportunities around hosting the All Blacks when they play France at Yarrow Stadium in June.

It is believed Taranaki were offered a match against the new South African side the Southern Kings in April but declined. An offer of another match against different opposition was also believed to have been turned down, although Pennington would not comment on the matter.

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"Our focus is really on delivering a fantastic All Blacks experience for our province."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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