Rugby: Speight's pledges to stick by Otago

With one day to go until the fate of the Otago Rugby Football Union is decided, there is no clear indication what will happen to the union.

All parties had gone to ground yesterday and were not commenting on what action the union would take tomorrow.

The union announced late last month it was going into liquidation because of a debt of $2.35 million and a loss projected this year of more than $750,000.

But last Friday it delayed the liquidation for a week.

Union change manager Jeremy Curragh and chairman Wayne Graham declined to comment yesterday, as did the New Zealand Rugby Union.

With a self-imposed deadline of 4pm tomorrow, a decision must be made before then.

Meanwhile, major sponsor Speight's will continue its support for rugby in Otago, whether with the ORFU or another body that takes its place.

National sponsorship manager Brent Robinson said the company, which provided a "substantial" financial package, "wants to see a team [from Otago] in the ITM Cup".

A spokeswoman said there would be no financial fallout for the company if the union went into liquidation tomorrow.

Robinson said: "Speight's has had a long association with regional rugby in Otago and we are just coming into the second year of a multi-year sponsorship arrangement with Otago rugby which provides substantial financial support to the Otago ITM Cup team and community rugby.

"We have absolutely no intention of walking away from our commitment and we will do everything we can to maintain our level of financial support to Otago rugby."

Asked how support could continue if the union went into liquidation, he said while the situation was "fluid", he expected support would go to the new body running the sport. The level of funding would not change. He would not reveal the amount of funding the company provided, but said it was significant.

Company representatives would be "talking to all parties to better understand the situation and to reaffirm Speight's' commitment to support Otago rugby".



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