Kiwis must cough up cash

Newscorp will demand compensation if top All Blacks are rested during next year’s Vodacom Super 14.

According to the Sunday Star-Times newspaper, NZRU chairperson Jock Hobbs met with executives of the broadcaster in Sydney last week, and was told to name the 22 World Cup contenders who will miss seven weeks of the Super 14.

Once informed, Newcorp will talk to broadcasters in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa – plus Sky TV in the UK – to discuss what Newscorp spokesperson Greg Baxter described as “an acceptable compromise”.

Baxter said that would probably involve negotiating a discount on the contract Sanzar signed with Newscorp in 2004.

“I think so, because clearly there is a value attached to these players. If there wasn’t they would not be resting them,” he said.

Baxter said News Ltd would prefer to avoid a protracted legal argument.

“To us, that is about as far away from where we want this relationship to be as you can get, so that would be an absolute last resort,” he said. “We will be trying to pursue other avenues, which will include the possibility of being compensated for the loss of those players.”

Baxter said the NZRU was “very contrite and apologetic” but “we still think the way they went about [consulting News Ltd on the stand-down] is incredibly poor.

“We just do not understand at the most basic level why, instead of talking to us, they sought queen’s counsel legal advice. It doesn’t say much about what they think of the relationship to be honest.

“We thought it was appropriate to spell out that quite clearly, because we have invested in rugby — by the time this current contract is over — over a billion dollars and we don’t entirely see that as a matter of just writing cheques.

“If you are going to have a billion-dollar relationship with someone you want that to be a great relationship and that is still what we want to achieve.”