12 Dec 2008

NZRU chips in to help provinces

5:25 pm on 12 December 2008

The New Zealand Rugby Union is to provide immediate help to provincial unions in response to worsening economic conditions, with each to get an additional quarterly grant.

The 14 Air New Zealand Cup unions will now get an extra $150,000 - some used to get less - with another $35,000 for the 12 Heartland Unions.

However, the extra money may not be enough to keep Tasman in the top tier, as they still need to find another $250,000 by Wednesday evening.

NZRU chief executive Stew Tew says it has been able to help because its surplus is bigger than expected, thanks largely to the New Zealand dollar's decline against the US dollar.

Mr Tew says additional income from the Bledisloe Cup test in Hong Kong and the mid-week match against Irish side Munster also helped produce a small operating surplus of about $1 million, when a loss of about $4 million had been anticipated.

But he says more work needs to be done on reducing Air New Zealand Cup costs and there will be a $1 million Support Fund to help unions achieve a more appropriate and sustainable level.