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Job losses and provincial changes not ruled out as NZ Rugby look to revive the game

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(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

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By Christopher Reive, NZ Herald

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has not ruled out the possibility of job losses as the organisation looks to grow and sustain the game.

NZR yesterday released some of the findings of an independent investigation into the state of the game. The review, carried out by consultancy group McKinsey, identified opportunities to grow revenue and remove inefficiencies — including a high performance pathway, expenditure optimisation, resourcing across rugby, domestic competitions and revenue growth opportunities.

Asked if there was any potential for job cuts as NZR looks to remove inefficiencies, Robinson said it was a possibility.

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“The reality is, yeah, there could be a whole range of different options in that space. We just have to work through that,” he said.

“There are a lot of possibilities regarding people right across the ecosystem of rugby with stakeholders and they’ll be conversations we have for and with those people at the appropriate times.”

The Herald understands NZR is going to post a multi-million dollar loss for 2019 and is forecasting another for next year, hence its decision to engage McKinsey earlier this year to investigate ways in which the sport can be restructured.

“We work on a five-year cycle and we’re very aligned with the plan we’ve had over the past five years. In fact, we’re sitting slightly ahead of those long term projections so we’re very comfortable and we’ve communicated that well with our stakeholders,” Robinson said.

“Yes, we’ve had financial losses but they are evened out by the overall cycle of those five-year patterns to be in a position where we’re exactly where or marginally ahead of where we thought we would be.”

It is believed NZR’s broader vision sees provincial unions in a new role where they will mostly drive participation and administer the club game at a local level, leaving Super Rugby sides with greater responsibility to manage talent identification and development of elite players.

NZR presented the initial findings on the review yesterday, and reassured the provincial unions the governing body would be back into engaging on the review from next week, with a couple of roadshows around the country. At that time, more details will be shared with the unions about the different options.

Robinson was hopeful the unions would provide plenty of feedback on the various paths NZR could take but was uncertain with changes might be made at a provincial level.

“We’re going to work through consultation before determining what any future changes might look like. “We simply haven’t decided on anything yet.

“We’re very genuine about that. That will be determined over the coming weeks and months,” Robinson said.

“Our sense is our stakeholders are incredibly engaged, they are credibly open to possibilities and are approaching this in an open-minded manner because we all recognise we need to change areas of the game if we’re going to continue to build on the strength we’ve had over the last 125 years, the incredible legacy we’ve developed and all the successful attributes of our game — a lot still exist — we just need to continue to evolve, continue to build on that incredible legacy and the strength of our game and look to the future in a really proactive manner.

“We think this is a once in a generation opportunity to create a unique environment for consultation and change. It’s a once in a generation opportunity to step back from the game given the timing a whole lot of work’s been coming together and get really focused on how we re-energise and refine the game further to stay in a strong space. “

Robinson said the report would not be made public.

This article first appeared on and was republished with permission.

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