Rugby: Proud Taranaki union on brink of financial ruin

One of New Zealand's proudest rugby unions is in danger of financial ruin.

Taranaki posted a loss of just under NZ$1million last year, primarily due to the limited use of their New Plymouth home ground Yarrow Stadium.

The pain is real for the union's top side and its quest to stay competitive, particularly for a union that boasts a proud history in provincial rugby.

A maiden national provincial title in  2014 and six successful Ranfurly Shield tenures - the most recent two years ago

Taranaki's given New Zealand rugby names like Barrett, Crowley and Loveridge, but now the outlook is bleak, mostly because they can't fully utilise their home ground.

Yarrow Stadium's two main grandstands are considered an earthquake risk.

"We've had to strip out a lot of costs of Taranaki Rugby across all departments," said chief executive Jeremy Parkinson.

"The biggest focus being on the Mitre 10 Cup, one the team and two the management."

Effectively - the union's ability to attract and then keep players is severely limited.

Currently, they can't sign players for more than a year. Their squad is full of talent on limited paying deals.

"The reality is we now have minimum contracts for our players," Parkinson said.

On top of that they can only afford one full-time support staff member- that's head coach Willie Rickards.

"Previously, with a fully functioning Yarrow Stadium, we've had the ability to go out and recruit at a high level; whereas that's not the case now," said Parkinson.

The situation is personal for first five Stephen Perofeta. The Blues and Taranaki playmaker said he owes a lot to the amber and blacks.

"The Naki gave me an opportunity to come straight out of school into a welcoming environment where I was able to grow, not only in rugby but as a person," he said.

Yarrow Stadium's future is now at a public consultation phase, but the Taranaki regional council wants an NZ$55million upgrade of both stands.

"We have really good staff and really passionate supporters, so we're calling on them this year to get behind us," said Parkinson.

The Taranaki Rugby Union desperately need help to end their troubles.