Listening to the talk of NZRU CEO, Steve Tew’s, resignation annocement on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report the other morning I was irked by how much his / NZRU’s focus was on the international game & stage under his tenure, while it’s felt, like with so many other big New Zealand corporate organisations, regional / grassroots rugby has been ignored under his tenure.
How many Super Rugby, or even All Blacks games (Napier has hosted only two in 20yrs!) could have been played in sold-out, 15,000-20,000 capacity regional stadiums like McLean Park, rather than the regularly 1/2 – 3/4 empty Eden Parks, or (Wellington’s Westpac Trust Stadium) “Caketins”?
Main centre Super Rugby fixture crowds have been pitiful and/or declining for some time, and the whining about low attendances from rugby bosses has only gotten louder, yet do they change tack and spread the games around?
Hawke’s Bay, its team and its fans have been regularly providing the talent, the turnout and the income for Tew’s organisation for years, so why haven’t NZRU returned the favor?
Or, under Mr Tew’s reign, has rugby in New Zealand become more about the money than the mana?