Former NZRU boss offers help to Otago union

Former NZRU boss David Moffett has offered his services to the Otago Rugby Football Union after it said it would go into liquidation on Friday with debts of with $2.2 million.

Moffett said he had contacted the southern union today offering his services. He said the situation could be turned around and said the focus should be on negotiating debt reduction and increasing revenue.

Moffettt said he was well-placed to get the union out of the financial dilemma after his work while chief executive of the Welsh Rugby team to significantly reduce its multimillion-dollar debt.

"There will be ways of doing it; there's no doubt about that. What they need now is some absolute radical change in the ways they do things. It needs someone who understands rugby and there would be few people in New zealand who would have my level of experience,'' he said.

Otago was "too important to New Zealand rugby'' to lose, said Moffett.

"They produce so many good rugby players and coaches. It's in nobody's interests to see a rugby union go down the gurgler.''

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie believed proud rugby supporters could also be the key to saving the team by the looming deadline.

"We're hopeful that this isn't the end of Otago rugby. We've got a lot of people who come down here and get in behind the teams and they carry a bit of that pride with them.

"We need to find a way forward as quickly as possible.''

If the liquidation does go ahead, it would have a wide-reaching economic and emotional impact on the region, where rugby was "an institution'', he said.

"The immediate effect is that we've got a number is small businesses that won't be paid for services they've provided - there's 180 creditors in the list.''

If fewer teams visited the region, local businesses could also lose out, he said.

The biggest effect though was likely to be emotional: "you can't measure how it would affect the psyche of Otago'', said Mr Christie.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew described it as "a pretty grim day for Otago rugby''.

Tew said the Otago union would have a couple of weeks to show it had the ability to fund a team in the national provincial competition, the ITM Cup team, or the competition would go ahead this year with 13 teams.

The New Zealand Rugby Union has declined to bailout the union or loan it any money as it simply said the debt was too big and would set a precedent it was not comfortable with.

All Black Adam Thomson took to Twitter today to call for action.

"With a world class facility born and so much young talent to lose the decisions of some astound.. #ORFU and parties unite, It can be saved!''

Dunedin Labour MPs Clare Curran and David Clark offered their support, and encouraged the community to do the same.

"The important priorities right now are to ensure that our community supports local clubs, that our kids continue to play rugby and that the clubs continue to function.

"Any moves to develop a rescue package which would ensure Otago has a team competing in this year's ITM will also have our support, said Ms Curran.


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