Rugby: Otago leads way in spending less on wages than allowed

Player wages in the ITM Cup are on the decrease and it appears Otago is leading the charge.

In figures released by the New Zealand Rugby Union yesterday, the Otago union had the biggest separation between what it could spend and what it actually did spend.

Under the salary cap rules, unions can spend up to $1.35 million or 36% of their commercial income, whichever is lower.

Otago spent $804,891 last season, $545,019 lower than it could have spent.

The union with the next-largest saving was Canterbury, which could have spent $1.35 million but spent only $963,814.

ORFU general manager Richard Kinley said it the Otago union deliberately spent less.

''We could only spend what we could afford and our financial dramas of the past year have been well documented. We were never in a position to get up to the level of the salary cap,'' he said.

''It will be less this year, as I expect it to be with most unions. We need to position the ITM Cup so that it is sustainable for all unions.''

Otago was the union with fourth-lowest spending on player wages. Northland spent the least with $625,301 while Tasman was just above it with $629,346.

Championship winner Counties-Manukau spent $707,986, followed by Otago. Taranaki paid the most of any unions, spending $1,127,944. Hawkes Bay was next on $1,110,855.

Southland was third,

spending $1,103,403, just under $100,000 less than it could have spent.

Kinley said while he had no evidence, provinces such as Taranaki and Hawkes Bay might have benefited from being in a centre which did not have a Super 15 team based in it.

Overall, the 14 unions spent more than $3.5 million less than they could have last season. Player payments were down more than $1 million from the previous year.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said the results from 2012 showed unions were working hard to maintain the viability of provincial rugby.


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