WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams received a financial boost on Thursday thanks to a NZ$1.25 million ($801,875) cash injection from the government as part of a wider funding package to help professional sport deal with the COVID-19 fallout.
The funds are part of NZ$4.6 million in disbursements handed out to the country’s small group of pro sports organisations on Thursday, with Netball New Zealand receiving the biggest grant of NZ$2.2 million to help run the top-tier competition.
The cash injection comes as New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides prepare for the start of a 10-week domestic competition on June 13.
“Our Super Rugby clubs, along with all areas of rugby and different sectors of New Zealand have been facing incredible financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said in a statement.
“This generous government package will help them kick off and compete in Super Rugby Aotearoa with real momentum.”
The Wellington Phoenix, who compete in Australian soccer’s A-league, received NZ$950,000 while rugby league’s New Zealand Warriors were given NZ$200,000.
The government allocated NZ$265 million in last month’s budget to help the entire sports industry get back on its feet after the pandemic badly affected broadcast, commercial and ticket revenues.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford