New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has tapped Law Society president Kathryn Beck to head its recently-established respect and responsibility panel.
The probe comes as rugby in the country is still reeling from a number of off-field scandals including the Chiefs’ stripper scandal, Losi Filipo’s case and Aaron Smith’s airport toilet sex scandal.
The panel is expected to probe rugby’s cultural issues, particularly its attitude towards women.
Joining Beck is Sport NZ board member Jackie Barron, Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington, former All Blacks doctor Dr Deb Robinson, New Zealand Cricket and Hurricanes board member Liz Dawson, former World Anti-Doping Agency head David Howman, HR and communications executive Kate Daly and All Black greats Michael Jones and Keven Mealamu, according to several reports.
“This is an important piece of work for rugby in New Zealand. I am encouraged by the conversations I have already held with New Zealand Rugby as it demonstrates a real desire to drive a positive change in the way rugby identifies and addresses issues of respect and responsibility,“ Beck said, according to Stuff
“Rugby in New Zealand is in a unique position where it should be able to inspire and encourage New Zealanders – young and old – to be the very best people they can be.
“I am delighted with the calibre of the panel as I believe they will help New Zealand Rugby to have a meaningful, and real, assessment of its culture,” she said.
Recently, NZR also appointed Wellington Rape Crisis agency manager Eleanor Butterwoth as respect and reasonability manager tasked to support “healthy relationships across all levels of the game.”
According to NZR chairman Brent Impey, the panel will convene at least once before the year ends. He said that the panel is expected to provide a preliminary report to the NZR board April next year, and that they expect to share the outcome of the review the following month, according to The New Zealand Herald
Impey said that the effort will review of New Zealand Rugby policies, processes and programmes already in place, and that may need to be developed further, to build a culture of respect and responsibility in the professional rugby environment.
“Rugby has long been held up as one of the unique vehicles for New Zealanders to feel connected to each other, to be inspired, and be great members of their communities. We want to play our part in those opportunities and ensure rugby plays a positive role in our society,” he said.
“NZR has clear expectations of its players, coaches, team management, executives, administrators and governors, their responsibilities and how they should conduct themselves.
“We want to review how these expectations are communicated and ingrained to ensure the standards of conduct and the underlying culture of respect and responsibility are clearly understood and maintained,” he added.
NZR boss Steve Tew said there is significant potential to improve the professional game’s standards of behaviour.
“While much has been achieved and there has been considerable personal growth in most of those involved in professional rugby, there is still a significant opportunity, need and desire to further improve the culture and overall standards of behaviour within the professional game,” Tew said.
“In the same way that rugby seeks to do better on the field, we must constantly seek ways to improve off the field. The integrity, reputation, and ultimate success of the game in New Zealand depends on this,” he added.
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