Kiwi unions call for change
Eleven out of fourteen provincial unions have appealed to the New Zealand Rugby Union to scrap mid-week ITM Cup matches according to Tasman CEO Andrew Flexman.
Flexman is leading a campaign against the current shortened structure of the National Provincial Championship which the majority of the smaller provinces believe is leading to poor crowd numbers.
Canterbury, Auckland and Wellington want to retain the current format but the remaining provinces have called on the NZRU to extended the competition by a fortnight to 12 weeks.
The smaller unions also argue that the abridged version of the season does not allow players to recover from injuries, meaning that teams with smaller budgets and less depth struggle to compete.
Flexman says adding an extra week at the start and end of the original schedule would eliminate the need for mid-week games and believes the NZRU is prepared to listen to their concerns.
"It's a lost cause to get people to attend mid-week games 'live'," Flexman told Fairfax NZ News.
"We have probably lost money hosting games. Either it changes or maybe the NZRU's grants need to be increased because we are a significant contributor to the broadcasting deal.
"We [the smaller unions] need to be staunch, collectively, on this one."
The majority of provinces are understood to be in favour of the premiership-championship structure and want playoffs retained.