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'Immature': Provincial union chairman slams NZRPA boss over latest twist in Silver Lake spat

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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NZRPA boss Rob Nichol’s decision to leak confidential information to media amid the controversial Silver Lake saga has been labelled as “immature” by a provincial chairman.

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Nichol leaked a memo sent to media on Friday which outlined an alternative proposal to the controversial Silver Lake deal, which, should it get the green light, is set to inject a much-needed $387.5 million into the national union’s coffers.

In return, Silver Lake, the American private equity firm, would have 12.5 percent stake in NZR, a concept Nichol and the NZRPA are staunchly opposed to.

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In the memo sent to media, Nichol revealed Auckland-based investment manager company Forsyth Barr has tabled an offer which would see NZR sell a five percent stake in its revenue-generating assets via an NZX-listed entity to the Kiwi public and institutions.

The decision to leak the proposal, which contained confidential information, to media before running it past NZR sparked a sensational response from the national union’s chief executive Mark Robinson, who said his organisation’s relationship with the NZRPA is now “at a new low”.

Northland Rugby chairman Andrew Ritchie was similarly incensed by Nichol’s actions, which he slammed as “immature” and “not in good faith”.

“I think it’s immature, and clearly a play,’’ the Northland boss told Stuff. “I don’t think it’s in the spirit of things. And it’s not in good faith.

“Maybe they are being naive, I don’t know. But it is a very, very disappointing thing that they are coming out with these things.’’

Northand, along with New Zealand’s 25 other provincial unions and the Maori Rugby Board, unanimously voted in favour of the Silver Lake deal, which is hoped to financially revitalise the country’s domestic game, last month.

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However, the NZRPA refused to sign off on the deal due to concerns regarding foreign ownership of the national union, which has brought the deal to a standstill.

Ritchie made it clear how important the Silver Lake deal would be to the amateur level of the game in New Zealand, something of which he want the NZRPA to understand.

“If the deal came through from Silver Lake it would be an absolute game changer for the grassroots game,’’ he said.

“And that is what we are thinking of. It is not just about the money. It is the sophistication that they [Silver Lake] bring and the development that comes with it.’’

Richie added he, and other provincial unions around the country, struggle to see why the NZRPA are so opposed to the deal and are disappointed by the public feud between them and NZR as a result.

“It has been a well thought-out plan and not just something that has been plucked out of the sky. I think we are all struggling to see where the Players’ Association are coming from. It’s disappointing to say the least.’’

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'Immature': Provincial union chairman slams NZRPA boss over latest twist in Silver Lake spat

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