New Zealand Rugby take back ownership of struggling Auckland Blues

New Zealand Rugby claim ownership of Auckland Blues
New Zealand Rugby claim ownership of Auckland Blues

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed the purchase of 40 percent stake in the Auckland Blues after the Super Rugby side failed to make a mark both on and off the field.

It was in 2013, the governing body sold the licenses of the five Super Rugby franchises with each team's share split between the province and private investors.

The Auckland, North Harbour and Northland rugby combined held 60 percent stakes in Blues with the remaining 40 percent sold to private entity Bolton Equities Limited (BEL).

However, following an independent review, the New Zealand board confirmed the purchase of the stake from BEL on an interim basis to fix the ailing franchise that has been struggling to compete in the Super Rugby competition.

“NZR and BEL have agreed that the national body will take over, on an interim basis, the 40 percent partnership interest in the Auckland-based Super Rugby club following an independent review of the club’s governance structure."

NZR also confirmed that a new private investor will be brought in after consulting with Auckland Rugby Union, North Harbour Rugby Union and Northland Rugby Union.

NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew thanked BEL for their contribution but insisted that the move to review the club's governance structure is vital for its survival.

“We would like to thank BEL CEO Murray Bolton and his team for their contribution to the Blues over this period. A large amount of progress has been made over this time highlighted by the establishment of the Blues’ home base in Epsom which is as good as any in professional rugby.

“The review is one of many steps that the Blues have recently taken to help rebuild the success of the Club.

"This has included the appointment of Leon MacDonald as Assistant Coach and Tom Coventry as Forwards Coach to join Head Coach Tana Umaga in 2019, the extension of Principal Partner nib for three years and the re-signing of key players and new recruits such as Karl Tu’inukuafe."

Blues had endured a tough phase and has been the worst performing New Zealand side since 2013 and the team's mediocre performances saw young talents switching to different provinces and in turn had affected the home attendances for the matches.

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