NZ Rugby votes for US equity injection

The All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) are set for a mammoth cash injection after a historic vote to sell a minority share in the game's commercial interests.

At Thursday's NZR annual general meeting, New Zealand's provincial rugby unions voted unanimously to sell a 12.5 per cent stake to US equity firm Silver Lake for $NZ387.5 million ($A361 million).

Chairman Brent Impey said he was thrilled at the significant vote.

"Today's vote for Silver Lake represents a transformational opportunity for our game and one we must grasp," he said.

If ratified, it would mark the first time in the All Blacks' 115-year history it has not been completely owned by New Zealanders.

One hurdle remains: the support of players.

New Zealand's rugby players association (NZRPA) is yet to OK the deal with concerns from high-profile players including All Blacks captain Sam Cane, on a number of fronts.

They have expressed a fear of a commercialisation of sacred team symbols - including the haka - and an increased demand to play exhibition games to make money and brand exposure.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson denied the investment would ask more from players.

"Private equity investors ... do not want to have more and more and more rugby. It's simply a fallacy," he said.

Where all agree is the need for investment.

Growth in the game, both locally and globally, is stagnant.

"New Zealand Rugby needs investment," Auckland University of Technology senior lecturer Richard Wright told Radio NZ.

"Why? Because other people are not investing as much in rugby as much as they used to do and that includes New Zealanders."

Silver Lake has a portfolio of stakes in sporting ventures around the world; the UFC, the English Premier League's Manchester City, A-League's Melbourne City and the NBA's New York Knicks included.

The unanimous vote at the AGM will put pressure on NZRPA boss Rob Nichol to come to the table in support.

"We need our players' support if we are to make the most of the opportunity in front of us," Impey said.

"The game has to change and Silver Lake's capital injection would allow us to re-imagine rugby and invest in the areas of the community game that need it most."

Silver Lake has not made public comment through the divisive saga, but Robinson said executives were consulting with parties behind the scenes.

Speaking prior to the vote, former Black Ferns star turned politician Louisa Wall said the game needed to support the grassroots.

"We need the infrastructure. We take for granted we can play rugby. We need human resources. We need the grounds, the clubs," she told Radio NZ.

"It's a no-brainer. We have to do it."