New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has hinted a women’s Super Rugby competition could be up and running as early as next year if the large deal with a US investor gets across the line.
Talks of a women’s Super Rugby tournament have ignited this week after the Blues and Chiefs announced on Monday they would have a one-off women’s match at Eden Park in May.
Robinson said NZR fully support the creation of the competition and it is the next logical step in developing the game here but its fruition hinges on whether the body can afford it.
"We would like to have a competition like that, be it at a professional or semi-professional level, but that will be contingent on the resources we have available to us," Robinson told media yesterday.
Robinson said the finer details of a women’s Super Rugby competition were yet to be decided but it’s likely the competition would be made up of four teams – three from the North Island and one for the south.
However, the fate of the competition could be affected by whether NZR’s proposal to sell 15 per cent of its commercial rights to US investment company Silver Lake – a deal worth reportedly $465 million – is accepted.
"There are significant opportunities for us to do a range of things in this space, such as women's professional rugby if we have the financial wherewithal and the model to do it.
“There will be restrictions if we don't have that.
“But, we're going to have to look at the reality of our financial model and how that might look in the future."
The deal has hit a snag with the Players’ Association concerned it is putting New Zealand rugby’s Māori and Pasifika culture up for sale among other issues – a stance delivered in a letter written earlier this year that was signed by some of the country’s best players.
Current Black Ferns Selica Winiata and Sarah Hirini were among those who signed it.
NZR and the Players’ Association have entered mediation today to discuss the deal although Robinson remains confident it will be signed with an announcement expected after NZR’s annual general meeting on April 29.