Harlequins and New Zealand rugby announce historic partnership

Harlequins will be the go-to destination for All Blacks stars seeking European sabbatical
Harlequins will be the go-to destination for All Blacks stars seeking European sabbatical
©PA

In a historical move, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced Harlequins as the first club it will form an official overseas relationship for All Blacks stars seeking sabbatical.

NZR has unveiled a co-operation agreement with the English club, which they say will benefit both organisations on and off the field.

The decision comes at a time when NZR is under constant pressure to retain its players with salaries on the rise in Europe.

"This is new territory for New Zealand Rugby and this unique relationship will open some useful connections in that part of the world. With its strong ex-pat community, London is of key strategic importance to New Zealand Rugby, and when you factor in our shared relationship with Adidas, this cooperation agreement is a very natural fit," NZR chief executive Steve Tew said.

"This alignment will create significant opportunities for both sides, with players, coaches and staff able to learn from different environments with different people, challenges, and cultures."

With this new deal in place, Kiwi stars can reap the financial benefits of a stint overseas but under the control of the All Blacks.

"The All Blacks are the benchmark of excellence for all teams, so to be able to align with them both on and off the pitch will be of significant benefit to the club," Harlequins chief executive David Ellis said.

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