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Keep 14-Team Top Division, Former All Blacks Say

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Keep 14-Team Top Division, Former All Blacks Say

Wellington, Nov 19 NZPA - A long list of former All Blacks including Sir Colin Meads say the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) should re-think plans to cull teams from the Air NZ Cup competition.

The NZRU wants the 14-team premier division reduced to 10 next season with the four relegated teams joined by two others from the Heartland competition to form a six-team second division.

Teams facing the chop to division two are Counties Manukau, Tasman, Manawatu and Northland.

However, experienced New Zealand rugby writer Paul Verdon says that most former All Blacks that he surveyed want the national championship to remain a 14-team competition.

Former All Black No 8 Murray Mexted, who has spent 17 years as a rugby commentator, reportedly ran foul of his bosses at Sky Television for speaking out against the NZRU's plans.

However, Verdon's survey of 250 former All Blacks has found that 97 percent favour retaining 14 provinces.

The majority want a special general meeting before any NZRU decision to change the format and most do not want the subject revisited until after the 2011 World Cup.

The survey was not sent to current All Blacks.

Among those surveyed were Sir Colin Meads, Ian Kirkpatrick, Sam Strahan, former NZRU chairman Richie Guy, Laurie Mains and Grahame Thorne.

"The NZRU has got to leave it as is. They've given the smaller provinces three or four years to get it right ... They're up to speed and now they're going to be sacked. It's wrong," Sir Colin said.

The NZRU has said the current format cannot be sustained because of financial constraints.


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