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Cricket: Lookout trouble, it's Mr Fixit
Wednesday December 20, 2006
By Richard Boock

Martin Snedden's reputation as an international trouble-shooter is poised to break new ground next year when he takes up his position as chief executive of Rugby World Cup 2011 Ltd.

The 48-year-old yesterday confirmed his intention to resign as New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive in May in order to head the company charged with delivering a world-class rugby world cup.

Snedden is understood to have beaten an international field of contenders for the position, almost certainly on the strength of the crisis management skills he demonstrated with NZC during the past six years.

During that time, Snedden was forced to contend with the 2002 bombing of the New Zealand team's hotel in Karachi, the decision not to travel to Nairobi in the 2003 World Cup, the political fallout from playing against Zimbabwe, and the first players' strike in New Zealand sporting history.

He said yesterday the move came out of the blue, as he initially had no intention of leaving his NZC position.

"It was just too good an opportunity to turn down," said Snedden, who confirmed he had been head-hunted by the recruitment company involved.

"In my mind, I felt I hadn't reached the end of the road with NZC; in fact I hadn't really given a thought to leaving until I started looking at this position more closely."

Chief executive at NZC since 2001, Snedden previously worked for his family law firm in Auckland.

Before that he served on the New Zealand board, and completed an impressive international playing career as a bowler.

He is thought to have wooed the New Zealand Rugby Union with qualities that include:

* A positive working relationship with Government ministers.

* Experience in crisis and conflict management.

* A comprehensive knowledge of international event management.

* A detailed understanding of ownership issues at Eden Park.

The latter point stems from the fact that Snedden's great-grandfather was one of five Aucklanders who originally bought and drained a parcel of swamp land in Sandringham and developed it as a sports ground.

The arena is now embroiled in a funding tug-o-war between the Eden Park Trust, residential neighbours, the Government, local ratepayers and the rugby union.

Snedden will move from Christchurch to Wellington at the end of next year in order to be close to the rugby union, the Government, and other agencies.

Union chairman Jock Hobbs said yesterday that Snedden's background as a lawyer, sports administrator and former international athlete made him highly suitable for the position.

"Martin brings all the right qualities to this role," said Hobbs.

"As a New Zealander he also shares our passion to make Rugby World Cup 2011 the best-ever tournament and a showcase for New Zealand on the world stage."

The search will now start for Snedden's replacement at NZC.

Two names have already been suggested as possible successors.

Team general manager Lindsay Crocker (the former boss of Auckland Cricket) only narrowly missed out on the job in 2001 and he may be interested in trying his hand once more.

And former New Zealand player Justin Vaughan - a present NZC board member, doctor and director of his own medical company - also impresses as a likely contender.

Snedden had also been considered a possible candidate for the International Cricket Council's chief executive role.

But he said that, given the RWC 2011 position would end in five years' time, there was a still a possibility of him resuming his links with cricket administration in the future.

"I'm only 48 and I'd like to think there will still be a few years left in the old bones once this challenge has been negotiated," he said.

"I'm still a little bit interested in something like that. I don't know how far I'd get but that's something for the future."