Rugby: NZ Rugby proposes governance overhaul after independent review demands 'urgent' change

Dame Patsy Reddy.
Dame Patsy Reddy. Photo credit: Photosport

The New Zealand Rugby board has announced a proposal to overhaul the sport's leadership structure to create "generational change" for the game.

The proposal recommends a transition to a fully independent model, ensuring members have "lived experience" at the grassroots level, diversity across gender, background and ethnicity, and "strong relationships" across Māori and Pasifika.

The new model is a result of recommendations of an independent review, which deemed the current structure as "not fit for purpose in the modern era."

Knowns as the "Pilkington report", it recommended "urgent" change, including the creation of an independent process to appoint board members and the establishment of a "stakeholder Council to ensure the voices of stakeholders are heard and their interests represented in a collaborative forum."

Rugby: NZ Rugby proposes governance overhaul after independent review demands 'urgent' change
Photo credit: Photosport

The board has now presented its new governance model to NZR's voting members, the nation's 26 provincial unions, and the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board.

"Changing rugby's leadership structure is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform while at the same time ensuring that rugby remains deeply connected to New Zealanders," said board char Dame Patsy Reddy.

"The Board's view is that the time has come to collectively commit to transitioning to a new model. 

"Across rugby, there is wide-spread agreement on the need for change and we have seen that everyone has had the best interests of the game at heart."

Dame Patsy says it's essential for rugby to safeguard its financial future, while protecting and growing the sport at grassroots level.

"This leadership structure will provide greater opportunities for diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders to have a voice in rugby," she added.

"We are operating in a rapidly changing world and we need a leadership structure which supports a global, professional sport and meets the unique needs of our local communities. 
"Community rugby is at the heart of the Board's recommendation, and it is crucial that we meet the principles and recommendations of the Governance Review if we are to achieve the decisive and effective decision making needed to grasp this opportunity."

NZR says a transitional phase will be provided to stakeholders for the opportunity to co-create a "Rugby Council" comprised of 15 members to oversee the potential changes implemented from the review.