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Tew Pushes For Bigger Slice Of Financial Pie

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steve Tew
Steve Tew

London, Dec 2 NZPA - Having suffered a setback on the dual nationality plan in Dublin, New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) boss Steve Tew hopes he's claimed a victory for three-test inbound series in the June window.

Tew emerged with mixed feelings from the International Rugby Board (IRB) council meeting where the New Zealand-led proposal to allow former internationals to play for a second-tier country of origin within 12 months was knocked back.

His other main item was greater revenue from inbound tours, with the continued frustration that the All Blacks helped pack out huge European stadia in November but didn't earn a cent from the recent official IRB tests such as Italy and France.

Tew wanted to maximise the June tests and successfully secured a chief executive's meeting on the issue in February, with a report hopefully presented to the IRB council in May. `What we're aiming for in the long term is a commitment that they'll do the best they can when they come south," Tew told NZPA in London.

"We're arguing for the two years that are not Lions tours or a World Cup, it'd be really good to have three-test tours. That's our goal.

"This year we proved how silly it was that it was 1-1 against France, then they toddled off to play Australia and we hosted Italy. A decider would have been a hell of a lot more interesting to our players and our fans." Tew said the argument between player welfare and money-making continued to be a "vicious circle", but he agreed 14 tests this year was too many.

Sunday's Barbarians match came with the highest agreed fee of any northern hemisphere match the All Blacks had played, even more than the England test which the NZRU could profit from because it was outside the IRB schedule.

Tew hoped the Barbarians match would help his push for a fairer share of the revenues for future specially arranged northern hemisphere tests.

"There's no shortage of opportunities, it's just how many games before we start to devalue what we're doing, and take it past a reasonable point or the players.

"This tour being effectively seven weeks long has really stretched everybody.

"Our argument is we don't want to play six games on these tours, but to remain competitive against these guys in the market for our own players and coaches, you need to generate money to feed into the game. So there's almost a vicious circle."

Next year's schedule hadn't been finalised, but there were still offers from Tokyo and Hong Kong to play a test there. Tew insisted there would be fewer than 14 tests next year but was reluctant to label an optimum number. Tew conceded defeat on the 12-month stand-down idea for players from tier one countries to revert to tier two before the 2011 World Cup.

It potentially meant Joe Rokocoko playing for Fiji, Jerry Collins for Samoa or Sione Lauaki for Tonga, with the goal to strengthen Pacific Islands rugby.

"There's a fair amount of resistance to that up here because it has European law complications so they are very risk-averse in this part of the world," Tew said.

"You'd have to say they're also fractionally nervous as to what it might do if it strengthened the island teams."

Still, Tew got support from England's RFU for the proposal which would be discussed again, and would likely have a two-year stand-down and wouldn't be in place for the 2011 World Cup. He said Argentina and developing European nations like Portugal, Russia or Romania could also benefit from the eligibility change.

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