New Zealand Cup
Tasman survive for another year
December 17, 2008
Jonathan Poff (C) jumps on his Tasman team mates as they celebrate after kicking an injury time drop goal to win the round 2 Air New Zealand Cup match between Waikato and Tasman at Waikato Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Tasman enjoyed their most successful season last year, and have now been ensured a place in next year's New Zealand Cup © Getty Images

Tasman have been granted a place in next season's New Zealand Cup after convincing the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) of sufficient funding proposals for the merged Marlborough and Nelson Bays union.

The union had been on notice since last Friday that they must remove the bulk of its $300,000 shortfall before Wednesday's hearing, or they would face relegation into the Heartland Championship.

"On the basis of the undertakings made today by the Tasman Union we are pleased to be able to confirm that they will take their place in the Air New Zealand Cup next year," NZRU general manager of provincial unions and community rugby Brent Anderson said.

Tasman Chief Executive Peter Barr admitted that the union was on "death row" before the agreement, but by guaranteeing to meet the NZRU guidelines thanks to some "close affiliates" of the union, who have underwritten the £300,000 shortfall and guaranteed next season's $3.2m budget, Barr and Tasman have survived.

"It was 11th hour stuff really," Barr said. "But it's our intention that we won't call on those underwrites. We will be making every effort to ensure that our own communities assist us in funding our activity and we survive on our own steam."

Tasman's financial problems had been exacerbated by a growing rift between the Nelson Bays and Marlborough unions, with Marlborough officials believing that Tasman was being run as a benefit to Nelson Bays.

The rift culminated in a petition by seven Marlborough clubs for the union to return a side into the Heartland championship. The sale of Blenheim's Lansdowne Park was also finalised, but the sale failed to stem the tide of debt.

"We had a relationship to mend," Barr said. "We're now totally unified and now that we've received the good news I'm sure the Marlborough community will get behind to assist with funding of rugby in the Marlborough area.

"We've had a large number of companies and individuals saying `if you can confirm your status, we'll support you'. We were looking at death row, there's no question of that. Through these very uncertain times we had to look at other avenues and underwriting was one of them.

"I'm totally relieved for the staff and the players who had to work and play through very uncertain times this year," Barr said after Tasman had survived their second culling attempt since September. "It now gives some certainty around careers and we can get and work positively on our rugby. The focus has been very much on the financial side of the business.

"And it keeps that aspirational pathway for kids to the top of New Zealand rugby."

Tasman enjoyed their most successful season on-field in 2008, reaching the quarter-finals before being defeated by eventual champions Canterbury. Along with fellow New Zealand Cup side Northland, Tasman were singled out for relegation due to their financial struggles in September when a 12-team championship was proposed in place of the current 14.


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