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New Zealand Rugby’s NZ$200m Silver Lake deal over final hurdle as it passes union vote

Funding secures NZR CommercialCo minority stake and will support domestic development at all levels.

6 June 2022 Rory Jones

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New Zealand Rugby (NZR)’s provincial unions have given majority approval of Silver Lake’s NZ$200 million (US$130.45 million) minority stake investment in the national rugby union body’s newly formed commercial vehicle.

NZ$100 million (US$67 million) will go into NZR CommercialCo, which will house all revenue-generating assets of NZR, but Silver Lake’s funding will be distributed into the New Zealand domestic game at all levels, through its partnership with NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association (NZRPA). 

NZR says that NZ$7.5 million (US$4.89 million) of the funding will go to rugby clubs, NZ$2 million (US$1.3 million) into Māori Rugby, and a further NZ$20 million (US$13.05 million) into the provincial unions. There will also be a NZ$60 million (US$39.14 million) contribution to a new legacy fund targetting investment in growth while the balance of funds after costs will form an injection into NZR’s reserves to safeguard the game against any future financial disruptions.

The partnership will be ratified by the NZR board subject to the long form legal documentation being finalised which should take place in the coming weeks.

“This is a transformational moment for rugby in Aotearoa at every level of the game and will enable us to move forward, change, and take advantage of the massive opportunities in front of us,” said Stewart Mitchell chair of New Zealand Rugby.

“It has taken us some time to reach this point and that is because our members care so deeply about our game, our communities, and our people.

“Our collective challenge now is to grasp this moment and ensure we invest in the right areas of the game, in particular at the grassroots, in teenage and women’s rugby, and in the technology which will allow us to engage with our fans around the world and ensure rugby is re-imagined for the next generation.” 

NZR chief executive, Mark Robinson, added: “This is a major milestone for our game – the entire rugby community is united in support of the Silver Lake partnership and all that we can now achieve together. The hard work starts now as we work together with our members, our players and Silver Lake to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity over the coming months and years.

“Over time, we believe this partnership will transform rugby for our fans, participants, players, and stakeholders allowing us to invest in key areas of the game from participation in clubs to professional competitions while bringing new commercial expertise and focus to help us connect and engage with fans in Aotearoa and globally. Those benefits will result in stronger revenue growth which will ultimately flow back into the game at all levels.”

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