Rugby: NZ Rugby forges ahead on investment strategy without Silver Lake silver bullet

NZ Rugby will forge ahead with its own path of commercial investment, as the controversial Silver Lake deal continues to stall.

The decision won't spell the end of the US private equity company's investment into the national game, with talks continuing, but NZR feels it must invest now or risk being left behind by the rest of the world.

"The world is beginning to move on in this space and we believe, to keep pace and catch up, we have to make the decision to invest in that area, sooner rather than later," NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson tells Newshub.

The COVID-19 struggles of the past two years have highlighted just how desperate the national game is for cash, so instead of waiting for the Silver Lake deal to get over the line, NZR will invest its own capital into supercharging its commercial assets.

"We made the decision to carry on with the work around negotiating the Silver Lake deal, but at the same time, take the opportunity on our own to invest into the commercial area of our own teams, so we have the ability to start accelerating our own revenue growth." Robinson adds.

Silver Lake's offer for a 7.5 percent stake in the game remains firmly on the table, but negotiations with the NZ Rugby Players Association remain at a stand still.

Instead of waiting on the Silver Lake deal, NZR will invest its own capital - essentially starting what Silver Lake would've brought to the table, without them.

"We believe that the fanbase around our national teams is incredibly strong around the world, but we're not doing as good a job as we could to monetise that fanbase."

NZ Rugby's decision doesn't mean a future deal with Silver Lake is off the table.

"Ideally, you'd be starting off on the same footing with Silver Lake and all of our partners together, but it certainly doesn't preclude Silver Lake coming in at a later stage and being plugged into the work we've been doing already," says Robinson.

Another full season of All Blacks tests will also help shore up NZ Rugby finances, with a showdown with England at Twickenham the latest added to the calendar, but Silver Lake remains the silver bullet.

The delay has forced Robinson to act now, but the NZR boss refuses to look back on the process with frustration.

"Our energy is on how we go forward and make this game as great as we possibly can, so that's really where our energy lies.

"We've learned so much through COVID over the last 18 months, but really, our energy has to be on getting this done and accelerating the game forward."