Heartland unions support deal

The Silver Lake deal with NZ Rugby just took a step forward.

The 12 Heartland provincial unions have thrown their weight behind the proposed Silver Lake partnership with NZ Rugby.

The unions put out a statement yesterday which said it was time the 12 unions were heard.

"The grassroots level of the game is the cornerstone of rugby in New Zealand and we see the Silver Lake partnership with NZ Rugby vital in ensuring community rugby survives," Heartland Secretariat chairwoman Bridget Belsham said.

Belsham is the chief executive of the Wanganui union.

As custodians of the community game in their individual regions, the Heartland provincial unions represent a significant number of clubs and schools, the statement said.

Funding is required to ensure the important development pathways and participation programmes are available to support and grow the game in our regions.

"Rugby is facing immense challenges and investment into the community game must happen now. There are more than 150,000 rugby players in New Zealand and millions of fans.

"We believe this opportunity deserves our unconditional support and is required to secure the long-term future of rugby in our country."

The Silver Lake proposal, would involve a $460million investment in NZ Rugby in return for a minority stake in commercial activities of NZ Rugby.

It is due to be voted on at the annual meeting of NZ Rugby later this month, and more than 50% of the 26 unions have to support the deal to get it done.

Though voting will be weighted by player numbers, with the 12 Heartland unions on board, the national union has gained support.

It also needs approval from the NZ Rugby Player’s Association, which still has many questions about the deal.

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