18 May 2015

NZR called in to mediate Blues power struggle

6:39 am on 18 May 2015

New Zealand Rugby has confirmed it will attempt to mediate a power struggle between the Auckland Rugby Union and private shareholders for control of the Blues Super Rugby franchise.

Blues Super Rugby franchise.

Blues Super Rugby franchise. Photo: Paul Conroy Photography

It was reported yesterday that the relationship between Auckland Rugby and the private owners had reached a point where the two parties refused to work together.

The Blues board reached a deadlock after a battle was waged over whether to reappoint coach Sir John Kirwan or advertise for a replacement.

It's believed the acrimony has led to the board being non-functioning.

No decisions can be made about Kirwan's future until the dispute is resolved.

"New Zealand Rugby confirms that it has been involved in discussions with the Blues shareholders," NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement released last night.

"As a consequence it is apparent there are some relationship issues amongst shareholders and we have offered to mediate. We hope all parties will accept this offer so we can together resolve this issue. Because we are in the middle of discussions, we are unable to comment further at this time."

Tew's intervention was called for by the private owners.

The fractured relationship raises the question of who actually controls the Super Rugby franchise and who makes the key personnel appointments.

The NZR's willingness to intervene through mediation points to how bad things have become at the Blues.

The only other time NZR stepped in to resolve such issues during the professional era was when they helped with the bailout of Otago rugby to save the union from financial collapse.

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