New Zealand could pull out of 2015 World Cup

 

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The Independent Online

New Zealand have warned they may be forced to pull out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup unless commercial restrictions surrounding the tournament are eased.

Steve Tew, chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Union, admitted an All Blacks boycott would be "the very last port of call" but could not be ruled out.



Tew said that competing at the 2011 World Cup had cost the NZRU NZ 13million (£6.6million) due to the absence of June Tests and a ban on sponsors for the duration of the World Cup.



The International Rugby Board will complete a review of the World Cup's commercial model after the current tournament.



Tew warned the All Blacks could not afford to compete at the next World Cup, to be staged in England, under the current financial model.



"That's obviously a last resort and our style is to be consultative, collaborative and to try to work with everybody to find a solution," Tew told Radio New Zealand.



"It's putting pressure on the balance sheet and frankly, in the current environment, we just can't afford to run a World Cup-year loss, nor do we think it's necessary."



Tew revealed the NZRU had been pushing the IRB to change the commercial arrangements since the 2003 World Cup and had gone public to try to ensure the issue was finalised.



"Now is not a bad time to make sure the issue is raised and considered, to give ourselves enough time to find a solution without having to go to any drastic measures," Tew added.



Tew explained the bulk of the NZRU's shortfall came from a loss of television revenues and gate receipts - a situation mirrored in all the other leading nations.



The placing of the World Cup as a September-October tournament means that both the June and November touring windows have been scrapped.



The Rugby Football Union are facing projected losses for the year of £10million.



Tew wants the IRB to relax rules surrounding the presence of team sponsors at the World Cup, which permits tournament sponsors only.



"In football, the FIFA model, there is room for both sets of sponsors to get some coverage during the World Cup period and we think that's something we should be looking at very seriously," Tew said.



New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu said it would be "devastating for our country and for rugby players" if the All Blacks missed the 2015 World Cup.

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