New Zealand Rugby launches extensive review into 'under pressure' sport

New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson.
New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson. Photo credit: Photosport

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has launched an extensive review into the sport, with the goal to set the sport up for sustained success over the next decade.

NZR, along with the 26 provincial unions and five Super Rugby franchises - will review how they deliver the sport and ensure it's sustainable.

A consulting partner has been appointed by NZR, with the outcomes and recommendations to be released by the end of May, after a preliminary report is due at the end of February. 

NZR boss Mark Robinson said while the current structure has served well for over 125 years, change is needed. 

"We're experiencing an unparalleled period of change as the world is now closer, our communities are larger and connecting in modern and immediate ways, and new generations are engaging differently in activities centred around sport, entertainment and leisure," said Robinson. 

"Now is the time to take a look at whether we can be better prepared for what the future holds.

"Rugby is under pressure in many parts of the game, from participation, fan engagement, talent retention and increasingly tough financial environments.

"We have seen significant growth in rugby since professionalism in 1996 but not all areas of the game have thrived in that environment and there is a never-ending drive to grow revenue and manage the cost base of the game.

"This is an important opportunity to stand back, look at the needs across all levels of rugby, from community to elite, and consider how we ensure that the legacy of this game continues well into the future. We want to ensure that rugby stays relevant and connected with fans and community, while still creating pathways and opportunities for emerging talent."

NZR board member Stewart Mitchell has been appointed as Chair,while the review work will be led by NZR chief operating officer Nicki Nicol.

In addition to NZR representatives Nicol, Mitchell and Nigel Cass, Michael Meehan (West Coast), Colin Groves (Waikato), Matt Evans (Wellington), Tony Smail (Canterbury), Cushla Tangaere-Manuel (Ngati Porou East Coast) are on board as provincial representatives.

Crusaders board chairman Grant Jarrold and Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark are on deck as Super Rugby representatives. 

Join us for live updates of the 2020 Super Rugby season