New Zealand Rugby admits 'culture problem'

New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew
New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew

New Zealand Rugby has admitted it has a culture problem.

The admission comes after widespread criticism of its investigation into claims by two strippers that they were abused by Waikato Chiefs players at end-of-season functions.

NZR says it stands by its investigation, but admits there were faults with the way it was conducted.

The organisation has also agreed to work with sexual violence survivor advocate Louise Nicholas and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue to address its culture problem.

NZR boss Steve Tew faced questions this afternoon about the organisation's widely-criticised investigation into the abuse claims.

"I remain really comfortable that the work that we did was good," says Mr Tew.

"With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it would've been easier for people to believe us if we'd have brought someone from the outside to sit alongside us and do that. That may well be a lesson we need to learn for the future."

Two days ago, NZR cleared Chiefs players of wrongdoing over the allegations made by the strippers. The investigation was criticised for not including an independent investigator, nor consulting with one of the alleged victims, Laura.

"I think there's some issues with the way it was conducted and that's why you have the backlash. I think going forward, they really have to look at their processes," says Lynn McKenzie of the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

More than 5000 people have signed an open letter from the Human Rights Commission calling for more respect for women.

Today, Mr Tew admitted there is a culture problem in rugby and that his organisation would work more closely with women's rights advocates.

"We're not where we want to be in terms of the culture of the game. Attitudes to women are really important to us and, frankly, we're not where we want to be," says Mr Tew.

Pushed on the fact Laura wasn't involved spoken to by investigators, Mr Tew offerd an apology.

"If Laura is upset that we haven't spoken to her, then I am very sorry about that. We will talk to her, we said that yesterday," he says.

"We weren't aware that Laura was available to speak to us either and that is an incident that happened in 2015."

More allegations were publicly revealed from the other alleged victim Scarlette today as to how she was touched and hit by players against her will.

But Tew says that's not new information to him and those allegations weren't substantiated in the investigation.

Today, Scarlette put out a statement, saying she has "no wish to see the events surrounding the Chiefs end-of-season celebration re-investigated, either by NZR or any other agency".

She doesn't want to complain to the police and "asks media to respect her privacy".