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The Harlem Globetrotters of Rugby
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The Harlem Globetrotters of Rugby

NZ Rugby World, Issue 189

In the last decade the All Blacks have become a travelling roadshow. The purpose of these offshore ventures is firstly, a short-term need to make extra cash, and secondly, to grow the profile and value of the brand by taking the All Blacks to new and prosperous markets.

Under World Rugby’s financial arrangements for Tier One nations, host unions meet the accommodation costs of their opponent and keep all of the gate takings. Games played under the ‘official window’ fall under these traditional financial arrangements. However, NZRU are limited by comparatively small stadia. So NZR has looked to work around the existing system by trying to play tests outside of the official window where they can strike better financial returns. NZR is able to command a set fee, up to the $4.5million that they were paid to play England in 2012.

The policy around new markets began in 2008 when the All Blacks and Wallabies played in Hong Kong. Both countries felt their rivalry had a compelling history that could be taken to ‘neutral’ venues. The game in Hong Kong was a sell out and was deemed a major success commercially – netting both countries about $4million each, and significant marketing success. Since this fixture the All Blacks have appeared in Tokyo, where the NZR would like the All Blacks to be an influential brand in Japanese rugby ahead of the 2019 World Cup – and Chicago where the success of the 2014 fixture resulted in a repeat against Ireland in 2016.

There have been discussions and attempts to appear in new markets such as Denver and Berlin. And lucrative prospects may be evident in Barcelona, Shanghai or the UAE.

That’s the influence that the All Blacks have – they are in demand in places where rugby is barely played or understood.

You can find the full article in Issue 189, NZ Rugby World. On sale now.

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