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Volume 6 No. 247
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New Zealand Rugby Dismisses Reports Of $38M Hybrid Game Against Australia

The "money is dazzling and the concept intriguing, but all the noise out of New Zealand Rugby" in France is that the reported proposed "hybrid" clash between the All Blacks and Kangaroos "is never going to happen," according to Marc Hinton of STUFF. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen "scoffed at an Australian report his team could be involved" in a NZ$55M ($38.3M) match against Australia's national rugby league side under special "hybrid" rules, and his boss at NZ Rugby "was equally as dismissive." The proposed contest could reportedly be played in Tokyo after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Each team would receive NZ$11M ($7.7M), equating to about NZ$728,000 ($507,000) per player for the one-off game. NZR CEO Steve Tew said, "This is definitely not something we are pursuing. Oh, A$50 million. I chuckle at a lot of media reports I read. I haven't heard anything about it, so there is no point in me doing anything other than chuckling about it." Tew said that the report "had some foundation, but the likelihood of a hybrid match ever coming to fruition was negligible." NZR GM, Strategic Relationships & Planning Nigel Cass spoke to the man behind the "ambitious project," Hybrid Rugby Chair Phil Franks, a year ago and "no contact had been re-established since." Tew said, "Frankly, what would we be wanting to play a hybrid game for? You never say never but it would be very improbable. This is definitely not something we are pursuing" (STUFF, 11/10). The London TELEGRAPH reported the All Blacks have reportedly "shown preliminary interest." Whether the matchup is 15-a-side or 13-a-side will be discussed if Franks "can get both sides to sit down around a table and iron out terms," although it is believed 13s "would be the preferred option," with two referees, one from each code, adjudicating the clash. New Zealand has reportedly given organizers a "specific window to play the game" -- between two to four weeks after the 2019 World Cup in Japan -- which means "the biggest obstacle facing Franks is obtaining permission" from National Rugby League clubs, which contract their players. In New Zealand, "it is much simpler" as the New Zealand Rugby Union has the final say over player release. Franks said, "I had a formal discussion with the New Zealand Rugby Union and they were really interested. They stipulated they wanted to see an elite-class game" (TELEGRAPH, 11/9).