Rugby: Stewart Mitchell named new NZ Rugby chairman

Stewart Mitchell has been appointed as new chairman of NZ Rugby at a board meeting on Monday.

Mitchell has won a close vote to beat out fellow candidates Shaun Nixon and Bailey Mackey, with Dr Farah Palmer named his deputy chair.

Mitchell replaces the outgoing Brent Impey, who in January announced he'd be stepping down from the role he has held since 2014.

Joining the board in 2014, Mitchell is a former Canterbury Rugby Football Union Chairman (2012-14) and board member of the Crusaders (2008 - 2014).

The qualified accountant has over 20 years' experience in various governance roles, as well as councils and boards across a variety of industries.

Mitchell's appointment comes at a pivotal time for NZ Rugby, as it continues its negotiations with the Players Association regarding the sale of a 12.5 percent stake to US private equity firm Silver Lake.

"New Zealand Rugby sits at a critical juncture and I am excited at the opportunity to lead rugby into a new era alongside Farah, who will be an outstanding deputy," says Mitchell.

"Our game faces multiple challenges from the community game to the professional ranks and I can’t wait to address those challenges head on.

"It is an exciting and challenging time to be involved. I believe we have a unique opportunity to re-imagine rugby and to lead the world and innovate on and off the field."

Palmer is a former captain of the Black Ferns, Associate Dean (Māori) for Massey Business School as well as Chair of the Māori Rugby Board and a Sport NZ Board Member. 

She was appointed as the first woman Board Director of NZ Rugby in 2016 and is on the RWC 2021 committee.

"What a true privilege to be given this opportunity and I am excited at the prospect of working with Stewart in his new capacity as Chair, as we work together to take the game into the future," Palmer says.

"We have a strong and talented board overall and I have no doubt we can achieve some great things for the whole game."