Rugby: Provincial unions take aim at NZ Rugby Players Association over Silver Lake deal resistance

Provincial Unions have slammed the professional rugby players for stalling the $387 million private equity deal with US tech firm Silver Lake 

Silver Lake's investment was approved at board and provincial level at the New Zealand Rugby AGM today, but the ongoing hesitation from the Players Association has left those at the grassroots fuming.

The 26 Provincial Unions were unanimous in their approval of Silver Lake's multi-million dollar buy into New Zealand Rugby, but it was a case of who wasn't at New Zealand Rugby HQ in Wellington. 

But the Players Association still aren't sold, meaning those who would benefit remain in the dark. 

"We've got different priorities," NZR chairman Brent Impey says.

"Our priority is the legacy fund, and putting that money into investment."

It's at the elite level where the roadblock lies. 

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles has been part of negotiations, and is urging patience. 

"This is a very big decision," he says.

"It's something we could look back [on] in 100 years and say, 'Why did we make that decision?' or we could look back in 100 years and say, 'We're glad we made that decision.'"

Coles stands by the delay and says it's crucial players have all the information they need. 

"It's not about the money," he adds.

"It's about leaving the game in the best hands, and having the future as bright as we can, and looking after everyone." 

But the grassroots game doesn't feel so looked after.

South Canterbury Rugby chief executive Craig Calder thinks the players are being greedy, and didn't hold back in his criticism of the delay.

"Two hundred and seventy players are holding us to ransom a bit," Calder says.

"It's incredibly frustrating, I think it's a money grab from them."

Players Association boss Rob Nichol wouldn't front for an interview today telling Newshub they need to resolve what the Collective will look like beyond this year in order for the players to respond to NZR's request for approval of the proposed Silver Lake transaction.

And while talks have stalled, some players can see New Zealand Rugby's side. 

"We probably need the help and the funding, and the money to really keep our game strong here in New Zealand," Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu says.

An outcome on this much-maligned private equity deal seems some way off.