7s, Maori to stay ABs: Tew
Wellington: New Zealand Rugby (NZR) are not planning to remove the All Blacks moniker from its Sevens and Maori teams.
Like the country’s famous 15-a-side national team, the aforementioned sides were given the name in 2012 as part of a rebranding strategy, although it hasn’t always had the approval of some sections of New Zealand’s rugby community.
And calls to scrap the name intensified after New Zealand men’s poor performance at the Rio Olympics where they suffered a humiliating defeat to Japan in their first match and then bowed out in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Fiji. Critics have suggested that New Zealand’s poor performance at the Olympics would damage the success and quality associated with the All Blacks brand. NZR chief executive Steve Tew disputes those claims, however, and said the teams would retain the name because of the financial benefits it offered. “The economic reality is if we are going to generate the revenue we need internationally to survive in this very competitive game we have to have more collateral in the market than we can possibly dream of with just the All Blacks,” he told Radio Sport. “So our sevens teams and our Maori All Blacks … can give us leverage to get sponsorship and brand awareness we require. The English clubs have just done a deal which gives them a hell of a lot more money to buy players. “The French TV deal has cashed up the French clubs. The pressure on our players continues.” Tew acknowledged the poor showing of New Zealand’s men’s team did not meet the high standards associated with the brand but feels one bad result did not harm the brand in a “meaningful way”. Planet Rugby Cheika said he wanted Gill and Holmes in his Wallabies camp for The Rugby Championship but “they pretty much declined to come in because they are in awkward situations”. Both players are managed by Anthony Picone, who delivered them lucrative deals with the foreign clubs despite them being contracted until the end of the year. The ARU has the ability to grant early releases to players not of national interest - Cheika said Dave Dennis was allowed to leave for Exeter last week because he was not in his selection plans - while others who are of national interest but have seven years of service can be granted a release after the third Bledisloe Cup match in October. “They were put in awkward situations because they had two contracts, and one would have been put in jeopardy if the other one was adhered to,” Cheika said. “It really put them in personal distress. “Yes, we could play hardball but where is the bonus for me to cost Liam Gill his contract? “If he really wants to go that much and doesn’t want to play for Australia so be it.”
But Cheika declared that this is no precedent decision, and no other players will be given early releases. “It won’t happen again,” Cheika said. “Guys have been put in awkward positions by their management. When I spoke to Toulon about Gill they didn’t know he was contracted until December 31. “Maybe the agents haven’t taken the ARU seriously. “One of these guys was saying that if it doesn’t happen he’s going to take legal action against us. I don’t know where they get off.
“It’s only that we’re being nice people that they are able to fulfil those [overseas contracts]. Stuff