New Zealand's 14 Air New Zealand Cup Provincial Unions and the New Zealand Rugby Union will meet for a workshop later this month to consider the structure of the competition.
The Provincial Unions and NZRU have agreed on the need for the workshop, which is intended to discuss and finalise the appropriate attributes, format and scheduling of the competition to ensure it is both a high-quality and sustainable competition into the future.
NZRU CEO Steve Tew said the meeting is intended to build on the consensus reached at the Provincial Union Forum held in March 2008, but also reflects the increasing financial pressure that the existing competition structure and the wider economic environment is placing on Provincial Unions.
Recent reports suggested the unions outside of the 5 main centres felt the Air New Zealand Cup needed to be saved from an increase of the Super 14 which they felt could waterdown their rugby and ruin the game here.
The agenda of the meeting includes consideration of the format and number of teams, promotion/relegation, the salary cap and other competition management tools, and consideration of the impacts of any change to the number of teams.
The workshop has also been invited to consider the cost base for the competition and the levels of funding required to support the competition and participating Provincial Unions, as well as the consequence of poor financial performance. The structure of the competition for 2011, when Rugby World Cup is being staged during the domestic competition window, will also be discussed.
Any recommendations from the workshop with respect to the Air New Zealand Cup will be considered by the NZRU Board which will make the final decisions on the structures for the competition.