'Mitre 10 Cup is broken' - cracks starting to show in NZ provincial structure

The Mitre 10 Cup model is "broken," according to one of New Zealand's struggling provincial unions.

Negotiations continue between parties over the potential pay cut for New Zealand's provincial players, with questions only continuing to be raised around the viability of the competition - this season and beyond.

Taranaki are one union feeling the pinch, having already forged ahead despite an earthquake-prone stadium and spiralling finances. 

Covid-19 though could be one blow too many for the struggling union to handle.

"We cannot afford to enter the competition and lose further money," Taranaki RFU Chairman Lindsay Thomson says.

"It's clear the model to some extent in terms of the Mitre 10 Cup is broken, and there will have to be changes to reflect that."

Taranaki are one of several unions pushing for players to take a pay cut of at least 30 per cent, in the hope of seeing sides able to field teams. That issue is alreaedy rangling among negotiating parties.

Unions themselves have already been forced into cuts, now needing players to make sacrifices of their own.

"We as organisations have already made significant cuts to our staffing numbers and people have lost their jobs," Auckland Rugby chairman Stu Mather told 1 NEWS.

"An opportunity here for players to take a little bit of a hit to make sure that the unions are kept up in a financial status."

Most of the nation's rugby unions' revenue streams have dried up due to Covid-19, their remaining funding coming from a $650,000 grant from New Zealand Rugby. However that grant is being cut by 15 per cent.

The next big unknowns will be in the form of whether or not this year's provincial competition will see any crowds able to attend, or how the Government's funding package will be split.

Adding to the complications is the fact that each union both want and need different things. For example, Southland say they'll have to get creative with cost cutting, despite being committed to playing.

Long-term player salary cuts or New Zealand Rugby dipping into their pockets to pay wages are just two of the suggestions.