Harlequins have entered into a pioneering partnership agreement with New Zealand Rugby.
The Times have reported that the Premiership side have agreed a deal with the All Blacks that will include a temporary exchange of young players to expand their development.
The report has quoted Harlequins chief executive David Ellis as saying:
“The All Blacks are the benchmark of excellence. To be able to align with them both on and off the pitch will be of significant benefit to the club.”
The move will benefit the All Blacks in terms of player growth, and they hope it will have the added benefit of stemming the tide of players leaving for Europe for a hefty increase in income. In that sense, they had been looking to expand into Europe and Harlequins’ London location was an attractive prospect.
Under the terms of the deal, and the report suggests that Harlequins may not be the only club to sign up for an agreement like this with New Zealand, players would be allowed to move to clubs in the agreement for a spell, under the proviso that they return home after a set number of seasons to line out for the All Blacks.
Likewise, Harlequins can now send young players to New Zealand to expand their rugby education.
The RFU are believed to have approved of the scheme under the guarantee that it will not harm the development of English players at the club.