New Zealand's national rugby team faces crucial vote after threatened secession

<eine Klasse="Verknüpfung " href="" Daten-i13n="Sek.:Inhalts-Leinwand;Untersek.:Ankertext;Ulme:Kontext-Link" Daten-ylk="slk:Neuseeland;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">New Zealand</a>s Leicester Fainga'anuku (R) celebrates a try against <a class="Verknüpfung " href="" Daten-i13n="Sek.:Inhalts-Leinwand;Untersek.:Ankertext;Ulme:Kontext-Link" Daten-ylk="slk:Australien;Sek:Inhaltsleinwand;Subsek:Ankertext;Elm:Kontextlink;itc:0">Australia</a> last year (Sanka Vidanagama)” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/″ data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/″/><button class=

The New Zealand Rugby Federation will hold a crucial vote on Thursday to decide who will govern rugby in the country, and if top players fail to get their way, it could lead to the governing body splitting up.

Months of simmering discord will culminate at the NZR's extraordinary general meeting in the capital, Wellington.

Decision-makers will vote on one of two proposals for the new governance structure of the rugby-mad country's national governing body.

NZR and the professional players' union are supporting a proposal for far-reaching changes, most notably that the nine-member board should be independently elected.

This was a key point in the recommendations of a thorough independent review of football governance last year.

However, the 26 influential provincial unions from New Zealand's amateur rugby strongholds have put forward their own proposal.

They agree that changes are needed at the top, but want to retain their current decision-making powers over three seats on the nine-member board.

In the run-up to the vote, the players' association upped the ante by threatening to split from the New Zealand Rugby Federation and form its own rebel association to govern professional rugby instead if the provincial unions got their way.

If none of the proposals achieves the required two-thirds majority of 90 votes, a stalemate and ongoing discord will ensue.

John Kirwan, the great All Blacks player and part of the 1987 World Cup-winning team, fears that power struggles at the top could drive away fans.

“The saddest thing for me is that people don't care at all because they're just fed up with it,” he told radio station Newstalk ZB.

“If you just don't care, our game is in real danger,” he added.

However, Canterbury Rugby Union chairman Pete Winchester warned that the last-minute threat of a split by the professional players would only further harden the mood in the provinces.

“We serve 150,000 amateur players across 26 provincial associations across the country,” Winchester told Newstalk ZB.

“It's a complex business. We're just saying it would be good to have three people with experience in provincial rugby.”

Richie McCaw, who captained the All Blacks to back-to-back Rugby World Cup triumphs, urged everyone involved to look beyond themselves.

“I would urge people making this decision to not just think about their own patches, but to go beyond that and think about what is right for New Zealand rugby in the long term,” McCaw told the New Zealand Herald.