Competitive Balance in New Zealand Rugby
NZ rugby has been confronted with the unenviable situation where competitions have become too predictable, making it increasingly hard to maintain fan support and to attract new fans. This is further complicated by many of the unions bearing large financial loses as a result of increasing player salaries and decreasing crowd attendances. The need for change has been recognized by all stakeholders, and the NZRU have introduced competitive balance tools as a possible solution. The objective of this study is to determine the opinion of both employees and officials on competitive balance in NZ rugby. In-depth semi-structured interviews of 17 officials and employees of NZ rugby were used to gain an understanding of participant’s attitudes towards competitive balance. Results indicate the NZRU have attempted to achieve competitive balance by the implementation of two competitive balance tools, namely salary caps and franchise contracting. The need for competitive balance was recognized by both employees and officials. Results show both parties are impacted in some way by the use of these tools. The major problem highlighted by my study is that NZ rugby is trying to balance the different (and competing) interests of all the stakeholders in order to achieve competitive balance, and this has resulted in some conflicting findings. This is illustrated by the use of collective bargaining, which was implemented to promote and protect players’ rights. While players recognized this has improved their rights, officials admitted it had placed restrictions on their ability to create competitive teams. This demonstrates the inherent difficulties in achieving competitive balance while also satisfying the needs of affected stakeholders. This study concludes that stakeholders are unified in the belief that competitive balance is necessary in NZ rugby. However, the best way to achieve this is not clear, and this is due to the competing interests of stakeholders. Furthermore, while the NZRU’s efforts to date have generally been perceived as effective, there is still some progress to be made until competitive balance in NZ rugby is truly achieved.
Advisor: Geare, Alan
Degree Name: Master of Business
Degree Discipline: Management
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Competitive Balance; New Zealand Rugby
Research Type: Thesis