The economic downturn is continuing to take a toll on rugby, as long-term sponsor Ford New Zealand looks to reduce its commitment to the sport.
The New Zealand Rugby Union has confirmed that, under a new one-year contract, All Blacks and Super 14 players will be guaranteed a Ford vehicle only till the end of 2009.
Up to now, the vehicle deal has been open-ended.
NZRU commercial manager Paul Dalton says they're just thrilled that the contract has been extended, given the impact of the world financial crisis on everyone.
At the end of next year, Ford will decide whether or not to continue their 15-year arrangement with the union.