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All Blacks chief executive Steve Tew to step down

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Steve Tew has announced he will step down from his role at the end of this year.

In a statement released on the AllBlacks.com website Tew said: “After much reflection, I’ve decided that this is the best time for me to make way for someone else to lead New Zealand Rugby into the future and a new phase for our national game.

“There are new and exciting changes coming as a result of the upcoming, new international calendar; a changing broadcast environment; as well as a new All Blacks head coach to be appointed; so it’s the right time for me.

Tew has overseen an upswing in the All Blacks’ commercial fortunes in the 12 years he has held the post thanks to a strategy of diversifying away from a reliance on domestic sponsors to strike a number of successful relationships with premium global brands.

NZR’s deals with global insurance firm AIG and a record-breaking £20m-a-year ($25.4m/€22.5m) kit partnership with adidas – the largest sponsorship deal in rugby history – have served to boost revenues and amplify the brand internationally. A case in point was the role AIG played in organising two All Blacks matches on US soil in 2014 and 2016 against the USA and Ireland respectively.

In the first full set of accounts to be released during his tenure in 2009, NZR made record losses, announcing an operational deficit of NZ$9.6m (€5.4m/$6.4m) for that year. The 2017 annual financial results – the tenth to be released during Tew’s ten years in charge – showed a profit of NZ$33.4m.

The commercial victories have also been accompanied by success on the field. NZR chairman Brent Impey said: “Under Steve’s stewardship, New Zealand Rugby holds all four Rugby World Cups for both men’s and women’s Fifteens and Sevens teams, which is a remarkable achievement.”

Tew’s departure comes as the largest rugby nations decide whether to be part of World Rugby’s plans for a Nations Championship pitting northern and southern hemisphere sides against each other across the year. NZR and its southern hemisphere peers would stand to gain the most commercially from more regular competitive fixtures against the top national sides in Europe.

“For now, this year’s priorities will be the Rugby World Cup in Japan, confirmation of our competition structures, completion of the sale of our broadcast content and to ensure a smooth transition for my replacement,” said Tew.

Read this: All Blacks turn to international partners to turn sporting heritage into commercial returns

Read this: The commercial pros and cons of World Rugby’s Nations Championship concept