Highlanders chairman Peter Kean says the club have ‘reduced’ their club world cup position for 2025

Highlanders chair Peter Kean, right, now owns 29% of the Highlanders.

Dianne Manson/Getty Images

Highlanders chair Peter Kean, right, now owns 29% of the Highlanders.

Premier chairman Peter Kean has increased his stake in the Dunedin club and believes the club’s world cup is likely to “take off” in form in 2025, offering a boost to Super Rugby clubs after years of Covid and a turbulent stoush between New Zealand Rngby and Rugby Australia.

Kean boosted his ownership stake when Christie-based management consultant Warren Goddard decided to sell his shares before Christmas for family reasons. Kean has raised his stake to 29% of the Highlanders, with the remainder owned by Sydney-based manager Ray Burke (29%), Shane Drummond (29%) and the Highlanders provincial councils (13%).

It means the Highlanders are starting a new era, with a new ownership structure, a new coach, a new support team and a new captain, and Kean said he was “in a good place” despite the challenges of the past few years.

“Let’s go pretty good,” said Kean. “It was quite a learned approach to profit and loss and also to balance.

* Highlanders sign former England No 10 Freddie Burns for Super Rugby Pacific
* Agony 2022 fuels Dal Papalii for Blue’ Redemption Super Rugby
* Blues coach Leon Macdonald says the All Blacks’ performance is vital in Pacific Super Rugby
* The Highlanders’ New England signing shows New Zealand’s thinning depth at No 10
* Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava takes next steps in All Blacks fitness bid
* Super Rugby: Highlanders secure lifetime license, buy NZ Rugby’s 10 per cent share

“No one comes through unscathed, no one over the clubs.

“We’ve had a few hiccups with the uncertainty of the Super Rugby format going forward, so there was a bit of reluctance for a while from sponsors and a bit of reluctance from club members and individual tickets to sign up with New Zealand Rugby and Australia going back and forth, but things have worked out.

Kean is a member of the former NZ Rugby board, who therefore comes on both sides of the fence with Super Rugby, as he tries to find his feet again after the exit of the South African side.

Kean believes South Africa have lost the blow as their side are “hardened” by New Zealand’s players, but is confident New Zealand and Australia have taken the first steps to give the tournament the structure it needs.


Former England rugby player Freddie Burns had tears in his eyes after reading an emotional letter from a Leicester Tigers fan ahead of Burns’ move to the Highlanders in New Zealand.

Longer term, he believes Super Rugby will eventually emerge outside of NZ Rugby and Rugby Australia, to stand on its own and act as its own media, or at least enjoy greater “autonomy” than it does now.

“We’ve got a relationship” [with NZ Rugby] where we can bring ideas to the table and not just get kicked, it’s discussed,” he said. “I think Super Rugby could be run better, but the bones are there and we’re having a good conversation with NZ Rugby.”

One development that clearly attracts Super Rugby clubs is the concept of a world club cup, and Kean said it could stand by 2025.

“The world cup … that’s pretty much resolved and we probably have a watered down version of it in 2025 and then a full version in 2028 and 2032,” he said.

“This was negotiated by Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby. It will still be completed, but it will be the top four or six of the comps playing the top four or six from the Northern Hemisphere.

The Highlanders’ aim is to be in that top four or six by 2024 or 2025, and Real Kean says it will “probably” take a year or so before the building in Dunedin turns them from underdogs into contenders.

Lock Fabian Holland and No 10 Cam Millar lead the charge of about 10 younger players who Kean says have already signed or are in the process of signing full-length contracts.

With most of them already represented in the New Zealand under-20 side, the expectation is that the assets will mature in Super Rugby.

However, Kean wants to see an immediate improvement in results this year after a tricky 2022.

“I was blessed with a few, but it wasn’t patient,” he said. “I was called.”

“…we really want to do better than last year, so that ‘first year, then build.’

Leave a Comment