(Bloomberg) -- Rugby Australia plans to kick off the search for new investors as soon as in the next two weeks as it gets ready for key international games including the 2029 World Cup and to fund the growth of women’s rugby.

The football league will sound out interest for a stake of as much as 20% and will target overseas private equity firms that have investments in other sports franchises, according to Chief Executive Officer Andy Marinos. Rugby Australia has spoken with key stakeholders including member clubs and the players’ association on their preferences for potential investors, he said.

“When we went through the doldrums of Covid, the game was in a perilous position,” he said in an interview on Friday. “We realized we need to make sure we don’t ever get to that position again.”

Any stake sale would see the Australian squad joining other iconic national teams in rugby in taking backing from foreign investors. CVC Capital Partners in 2022 acquired a minority stake in Rugby South Africa, the parent of the Springboks side. Six Nations Rugby, which oversees Europe’s main rugby tournament, also sold a stake to CVC in 2021, while North American league Major League Rugby has begun exploring a capital raise, Bloomberg News reported this month.

Last year, US private equity firm Silver Lake secured a 5.71% stake in the commercial operations of New Zealand Rugby for NZ$200 million ($126 million), valuing the business at NZ$3.5 billion. New Zealand Rugby is seeking feedback on the proposed sale of as much as NZ$100 million of additional shares in NZR Commercial to local institutions.

Rugby Australia, the owner of the Wallabies, hasn’t decided on how much it’s seeking from the stake sale as it depends on the offers, Marinos said.

“We want to secure the future of the game from any future events but also we’re on the cusp of a golden decade,” he said, citing a calendar of international tours, Commonwealth and Olympic games and hosting the sport’s eleventh World Cup. 

(Updates with Silver Lake’s investment in New Zealand Rugby in fifth paragraph.)

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