Rugby: New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson optimistic about game’s future after World Rugby meetings

With the game facing an increased need to keep growing, New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson is optimistic the right steps are being taken toward implementing positive change.

Robinson's returned from meetings around the future shape of the game, where enhancing rugby's global appeal was top of the agenda.

The NZR boss is pleased to finally see some progress on the future shape of the game from World Rugby. 

"I think them taking a lead is a really positive step and there's a growing sense in the game that this is not something that can wait for many years to be addressed," Robinson told Newshub.

"We have to be looking at the game constantly."

The 20 minute red card in particular has been a sticking point for NZR.

"All the discussions in these settings are really robust and respectful," Robinson said.

Having seen the benefits of its use in Super Rugby already, Robinson pushed the Six Nations unions hard for it to be implemented across the board.

A final proposal will go to World Rugby’s Council in May.

"We've certainly made it clear on the positive influence this change can have for the game," Robinson said.

"That essentially is, it keeps the spectacle alive in the situation where there is a red card."

Mark Robinson at a press conference.
Mark Robinson at a press conference. Photo credit: Getty Images

Robinson feels Super Rugby has already been leading the way. 

"The evolution of what we've seen in our competition is certainly starting to influence the way people are thinking about the game globally and that's really positive," Robinson said.

"Not only for the game but it's a positive reflection of the vehicle of Super Rugby."

NZR is already seeing the impact of improvements to Super Rugby.

Viewing figures for round four this season were up 25 percent on last year, and Robinson is confident that growth will continue.

"Look at what already the fans are telling us and the statistics around viewership are telling us around some of the tweaks we've made," he said.

"What's really exciting is the future possibilities here."

But what also can't be ignored is the struggles of the seven-time defending champions this season. 
Robinson though not entertaining the idea his former team's demise may be a factor. 
"You know me well enough I don't comment on individual teams or show any bias I may or may not have," a laughing Robinson says. 
"These story lines that emerge, you've just referred to one there's others that emerge week to week and that's healthy for the game."

 A game Robinson is feeling more and more optimistic about, but aware the job is far from done. 
"I think we've got to keep working at it, and as long as everyone remains open minded to future possibilities and our need to continue to evolve," Robinson said.

"I'm absolutely happy with this start point."