Air New Zealand Cup
Henry calls for NZRU 'integrity'
December 8, 2009

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has waded in to the ongoing debate over the future of the Air New Zealand Cup. The former Auckland coach believes that the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) should stick to their guns over planned changes to the competition or face creating a culture of debates and change.

NZRU officials are reportedly meeting to discuss their planned revamp of the competition on Friday, with the current 14-team setup slated to be replaced by a 10-team top tier and a six-team middle tier incorporating two sides from the Heartland Championship. Smaller unions have feared for their places in the top tier next season, with the division of sides to be decided on, among other things, financial stability and player resources.

"Whatever they agreed, which was a legal agreement between the provinces of the NZRU, they spent a lot of time on that and everybody said 'yeah, that's what we want'," said Henry. "I think that's what they should stick by, otherwise they're going to continue to have this hassle.

"I just think if you're going to go forward, you've just got to have integrity in those things and go by what you say. Otherwise you're always going to have these problems, you're going to have people arguing about it, people coming from left field making big suggestions when they don't know what's going on.

"I just think they should adhere to what they agreed upon. I think you'll see the players who've got the quality will make sure they play football."

Henry's words come in the wake of reports in The New Zealand Herald that the New Zealand Players' Association will table a possible solution on Friday with a full 14-team round-robin remain in 2010, before the competition split into first and second divisions of seven teams from 2011, eliminating the need to promote the Heartland Championship sides. The seven-seven spilt would be decided on the previous season's standings.


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