18 Dec 2008

Tasman rugby saved by mystery benefactors

8:49 pm on 18 December 2008

The Tasman Rugby Union is relieved that a group of benefactors has come forward to underwrite a $300,000 deficit allowing the union to continue in the top tier of provincial rugby.

The amalgamated Nelson Bays-Marlborough union needed to raise the amount to meet financial demands placed on it by the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Tasman submitted its new financial plan to the NZRU on Thursday, and it quickly confirmed the Makos place in next year's Air New Zealand Cup.

Tasman has been struggling with its growing financial problems as well as rebellious Marlborough club leaders who wanted out of the amalgamated union.

The differences have been patched up and the mystery financial support was celebrated in both Nelson and Marlborough by officials, players and supporters.

Tasman chief executive Peter Barr described the Makos survival as great news for the game's future in the area, and said the union would be seeking more sponsors.

Assistant coach Bevan Cadwallader saids the decision has come as a huge relief for players.

On Thursday, the union received extra support from the Nelson City Council. It has pledged a last-resort underwriting to a maximum of $75,000 for next year - provided that the Marlborough District Council does the same.