Highlanders’ long-term future in doubt


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The Highlanders’ future after 2010 depends on the Otago and Southland unions’ ability to push through the plans for a NZ$180m ($132.25), according to a television report in New Zealand on Saturday.

The TV3 news channel said that the NZRU may decide not to renew the franchise unless a suitable alternative venue to Carisbrook – which was stripped of its test status two years ago, could be found.

Plans are afoot between the Otago municipality and Otago University to build the new stadium with a retractable roof within the next three years, but the bill for the stadium is to be footed almost exclusively by the taxpayers.

“It will be very difficult to re-negotiate the current franchise agreement with the current facilities we have for Super 14 rugby, and they are not up to standard,” said Highlanders CEO Russell Gray.

The NZRU Deputy CEO Steve Tew echoed the sentiments.

“We are very supportive of the Highlanders concept but the people of Otago and Southland and the Highlanders need to make a decision,” said Tew.

The problem was also explained by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin, who stressed the importance of rugby in the region.

“It (rugby) is very important to the whole Otago and Southland region,” said Chin.

“We don’t want New Zealand to end north of the Waitake river.”

365 Digital 

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