A New Zealand Rugby Union cultural review, chaired by the New Zealand Law Society president, is recommending development in six key areas.
The review, announced late last year, was partly driven by some of the ‘off the field’ behaviour involving professional, high-profile rugby players and their conduct with women.
NZLS President Kathryn Beck, who is also an employment lawyer, chaired the review panel.
The report outlines how New Zealand Rugby can lead, develop and support people within the rugby system to be better people, and collectively to create better rugby players, teams, volunteers and experiences.
It says there is a mood for change and rugby is up for the challenge.
“The ball is already rolling towards the vision of rugby being inspiring and unifying. New Zealand Rugby needs to uphold its values and create change for the better,” the report says.
The focus areas of the 2017 review included:
- Induction and education programmes for the professional game
- Codes of conduct and behaviour protocols
- Leadership contributions to attitudes and behaviours
- Personal Development Programme
- Impact of alcohol and use of recreational drugs
- Policies, practices and procedures for complaints about behaviour
- Recommendations and goals
The Respect and Responsibility Panel has identified and recommended six aspirational goals
Goal one is ‘inclusive leadership’ which the report summarises by saying rugby in New Zealand needs to be an inclusive, dynamic, influential and respected code driven by a clearly articulated charter of values.
It goes on to say that New Zealand Rugby needs to partner with Māori as Tangata Whenua and that leaders and champions throughout rugby reflect the diversity of New Zealand society and model respect and responsibility and the values of New Zealand rugby.
The report recommends New Zealand Rugby actively celebrates women and girls, men and boys, people of all ethnicities particularly Māori and Pasifika peoples, disabled people and the Rainbow community.
The second goal is for New Zealand Rugby to become ‘progressive in developing people’.
It says engagement in rugby creates better people who are skilful, well rounded, values driven, respectful, self-aware and responsible.
The reports says this should cover everyone involved in the game including players, coaches, managers, administrators, governors, player agents and supporters.
The third goal is focused on ‘integrity and nurturing wellbeing’.
The reports summarises by saying New Zealand Rugby people should be well rounded, healthy and able to develop their life plan during and after rugby.
One of the more compelling goals is number four.
It states that New Zealand Rugby be committed to ‘empowering gender equality’ and proactively work to empower girls and women to be engaged in all levels of rugby.
The review panel recommends that women participating in rugby should be regarded as normal and actively encouraged.
It says all rugby environments from elite to community should be inclusive. The reports says New Zealand Rugby should leverage the current and commercial power of girls and women’s rugby.
Goal five builds further on number four in that it points to ‘respectful proactive engagement’.
It explains that New Zealand Rugby should reflect diverse communities through its branding, marketing and communications. It says women and girls, people of all ethnicities particularly Māori and Pasifika people, disabled people and Rainbow communities should be visible and celebrated.
To do this the report recommends New Zealand Rugby engage with the wider rugby community to inspire change.
The sixth goal is about being ‘world leading, accountable and independent’. It points to taking responsibility for the five previous goals. The report recommends New Zealand Rugby plans, monitors and reports on the outcomes of the ‘Respect and Responsibility Review’.
It says New Zealand Rugby should establish an advisory panel made up of members who have no official connection to rugby.
The review panel concludes by saying that undertaking a significant culture change in any organisation is complex and takes time and New Zealand Rugby needs to set a long-term programme for action.