New Zealand Rugby has had talks with private equity firms Silver Lake and CVC Capital Partners about investing in Southern Hemisphere competitions and a Club World Championship.
The New Zealand Herald broke the news of the talks, quoting a source from NZR as saying the discussions were on hold during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and that any deal was “miles” away from being signed.
But the source said that they had revolved around setting up a subsidiary company of NZR and putting commercial assets into the company, possibly in combination with other SANZAAR rugby unions, and would involve “something like Super Rugby in its reincarnated form, or the Rugby Championship”. The Herald report went further and said “the attraction for investors would be the prospect of a Club World Championship”.
A world club competition has been mooted by other sources recently, as part of wider discussions about the future shape of the global rugby calendar. These discussions are being driven in part by interest in rugby from private equity firms including CVC, which has stakes in the English Premiership and Pro14 European club competitions, and is planning a £300m investment in the Six Nations national team competition.
Talks between CVC and NZR were reported by the Financial Times last month. The private equity company was also reported to have had discussions with SA Rugby.