N.Z. Rugby chief doubts S.R.U.’s debt from A.B.’s visit

The Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Rugby Union, Steve Tew, has poured cold water on reports the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) got into massive debt following the All Blacks historical visit in 2015.

"We paid all our own costs to be there, sent a lot of people up to help manage the game, and deliberately went in for a short period," Mr. Tew told Stuff.

"They only picked up our landed costs, and that should have made it profitable."

Mr. Tew confirmed N.Z. Rugby had also picked up all Samoa's costs for the recent Eden Park clash against the All Blacks prior to the Lions tour. 

But it could not share revenue as it was a home game for Tonga that night against Wales.

Mr. Tew made the comments when his opinion was sought about the plight of Samoan rugby, with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi declaring it bankrupt.

Mr. Tew said the plight of Samoan rugby was concerning but his organization’s ability to help is limited.

"The reality is the international rugby economy is a fragile beast,” he said.

“You can shoot all these problems back to what drives our costs up, and that's the price of retaining our players, which is all coming out of the French market in particular.

"We'd all like to be helping all the developing countries more, but at the moment every cent we generate is spent retaining our players and other personnel, building the community game and keeping our provincial unions going."

Mr. Tew also has sympathy for Samoa's desire for more equitable revenue sharing, though could offer little in the way of hope on that front either.

"We've been arguing the way revenue is shared since I've been involved in the game. We have a locked in an international calendar for 2020-30 which increases opportunities for second-tier countries.

"But the basic premise of revenue sharing has held. That's a non-negotiable from northern hemisphere unions."

Tew said there had to be "accountability" in the territories, and said reform demanded from principal funder World Rugby had been "slow to happen".

All Blacks coach, Tupuivao Steve Hansen, also expressed concerns about what is happening in Samoa. 

"It's really disappointing, but it's probably a World Rugby issue,” he said. 

“You feel for them. There are a lot of talented young men who can represent Samoa and you want them to be strong."

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