Billionaire firm eyeing test rugby takeover?

Aaron Smith will surpass Justin Marshall's record for the most All Black halfback caps this...
A new deal in English rugby could yet come to impact on the All Blacks and Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images
English rugby's new billionaire backers will reportedly use their "landmark deal" as a stepping stone for a much bigger target - test rugby.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, leading European private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, have their sights set on the international game - in a commercial takeover similar to the sensational acquisition of Formula One in late 2005.

CVC have agreed to pay £200million ($NZ380 million) for a 27% stake in the English domestic competition Premiership Rugby (PRL), with top clubs effectively handing over control of their commercial operations.

Though this has led to growing tension between the RFU and clubs over, among others, the proposed scrapping of relegation from the competition top English club competition, CVC is confident of ultimately obtaining a controlling stake in international rugby.

This would be achieved through a "shake-up of broadcasting rights", the Daily Mail reported.

CVC' was the majority owner of F1 between 2006 and 2017, with Liberty Media's US$4.6 billion acquisition.

The firm is believed to have made more than £4billion from its time in charge, moving the broadcast rights from free-to-air to Sky Sports and aggressively overhauling the sport's sponsorship model.

The Daily Mail reported that a group of club chairmen previously discussed buying the RFU and Twickenham stadium.

Amid suggestions that such a bold measure may be revived now, one source said: 'The RFU is in real danger of losing control of the game to CVC and the Premiership owners.'

The former chief executive of the union, Ian Ritchie, has swapped sides and is now chairman of PRL at this time of rising club-country tensions. He is also destined to be chairman of a joint PRL-CVC board charged with managing the new investment.

According to the Daily Mail, CVC now regard test rugby as its next cash cow and will attempt to increase the Premiership's fan base in new markets like the US and China.

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