New Zealand's government signaled on Thursday that it is "prepared to back another challenge for the Auld Mug," according to Cecile Meier of FAIRFAX NZ NEWS. NZ Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce praised "the efforts of Team New Zealand at a software summit in Canterbury" on Thursday. Joyce said that New Zealand's involvement in the America's Cup "had lifted the country's profile hugely." Joyce: "We're pretty keen to back the yachties if they're keen to have another go." This "kind of event was an opportunity to associate New Zealand's brand with hi-tech, design, cleverness, and the ability to work as a team" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 10/3).
TEAM NZ SEEKING ASSURANCE: FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' Duncan Johnstone reported Team New Zealand said that it needs "some assurance on their future within a fortnight to avoid being stripped of their intellectual property and sailing crew." Team NZ skipper Dean Barker, Managing Dir Grant Dalton and COO Kevin Shoebridge "will now sit down and map out what would be required to keep Team New Zealand on life support." Long-term sponsorships will "need to be found but the immediate target is to keep key people on the books and avoid them being poached by rivals." Most of the Team New Zealand contracts are "about to expire, making members vulnerable to offshore raids." Dalton said, "I now have to deal with the vultures coming after my guys. This is a brutal game. It's like trying to take organs from a person when they aren't actually quite dead" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 10/3).
The Bahrain Int'l Circuit will host two F1 preseason tests next February "after beating off competition from Yas Marina Circuit and Dubai Autodrome," according to Gary Meenaghan of THE NATIONAL.
Following months of discussions, the Formula One Teams Association "signed an agreement in Mokpo ahead of Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix." It "will be the first time F1 has tested in the Middle East." Yas Marina CEO
Richard Cregan said that "the decision was 'good for the region,' despite the UAE capital missing out on the opportunity to welcome the high-profile F1 circus ahead of a new season when interest and intrigue is at its peak." The first test of the '14 season "will take place in Jerez, Spain, in late January before the teams travel to the Middle East for two tests running" on Feb. 19-22 and Feb. 27-March 2. The season "is scheduled to start in Melbourne, Australia, on March 14-16" (THE NATIONAL, 10/3).
The Celtic opposition to the bid by English and French clubs to redraw the map of European rugby may "not be as solid as many of the hard-liners in the governing classes imagine," according to Chris Hewett of the London INDEPENDENT. Scottish Rugby Union CEO Mark Dodson said that his organization was "ruling nothing in and nothing out" -- a comment that "will be taken by some to be a clear signal that north of the border there is a willingness to embrace radical changes to the current Heineken Cup format." Dodson: "I think it's been wrongly portrayed that we have been maintaining a position. It's a high-stakes game for everyone, but we are not ruling anything in or anything out at this stage. We would be crazy to do that." Dodson made his comments at the Scottish launch of this season's Heineken Cup, which the Anglo-French alliance "insists will be the last" (INDEPENDENT, 10/2). The SCOTSMAN reported the latest move in the battle for control of European rugby "came with English and French clubs insisting that negotiations with ERC were over and drawing up plans for their own 'Rugby Champions Cup.'" However, information leaked on the Internet "appears to reveal" that BT Vision’s £152M ($246M) offer is "dependent on at least four nations being involved in the new European tournament, and that the money would not be forthcoming for a purely Anglo-French event such as the one the PRL insist they are planning." BT Vision Senior Producer Grant Best said, "Our view is that, heading into 2014-15, we want to be part of that [European] competition, whatever that competition becomes. We did a deal for what we thought would involve that tournament" (SCOTSMAN, 10/3).