Canterbury happy with six-team series

Canterbury happy with six-team series
The Press | Tuesday, 01 April 2008

The Canterbury Rugby Football League believes the cash-strapped national body is addressing its problems and has applauded the introduction of a new representative competition.

CRFL general manager Graeme Sole said the New Zealand Rugby League had confirmed the six-team series at its annual meeting in Auckland at the weekend.

The competition -- scheduled to start in mid-September -- will feature Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Wellington and the Canterbury Bulls. A round-robin series will be held, culminating in a national final.

Sole said Canterbury, which had championed the return of representative football, were excited about the new concept.

"It's got to be good for us. It's not just the senior rep teams, it will involve the under-16s and under-18s as well. When the Bulls play in Christchurch, the 16s and 18s will play the curtain-raisers.

"They will all travel to games together, and with a bit of luck, the (Bulls') culture will rub off on the younger guys."

The CRFL had asked a series of questions of the NZRL about its finances and cost over-runs on the Kiwis' 2007 northern hemisphere tour. Canterbury was among many districts alarmed at the budget blowout which saw the NZRL debt hit $1.7 million last year.

Sole said most of the concerns were addressed in a comprehensive presentation by the NZRL which included a detailed analysis of the past seven years' financial activities by financial manager Alex Hayton.

Delegates discovered how some board members, including current chairman Ray Haffenden, had tried to put the brakes on a culture of over-spending by former chairman Andrew Chalmers.

"The chairman (Chalmers) took on a role as executive chairman," Haffenden said.

"We tried hard to change that mindset but couldn't. If we failed as a board, we failed in that area."

Haffenden pledged that the NZRL would appoint a CEO to "help fulfil the needs of our business that we can't fulfil now -- things like sponsorship, marketing and contract issues and it would help us to use contacts that a CEO might have as well".

The NZRL attributed the big deficit to a poor crowd in Wellington for last October's centenary test against Australia; a reduction in gaming funds and overspending by the administration. However, Haffenden reported the NZRL had managed to retain the Kiwis' three major sponsors for 2008.

Sole said the CRFL felt the future for the NZRL appeared "pretty positive".



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