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Rugby in New Zealand at a crossroads

Updated: 6 days ago

Proposal 2 has been voted in meaning provincial unions will have a say running the game
Rugby is at war with itself in New Zealand after a Special General Meeting. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

The provincial unions have strongly rejected New Zealand Rugby's proposed governance reforms at the special general meeting in Wellington on Thursday.


NZR's proposed reforms, backed by the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA), was rejected in the first vote, with 'Proposal 2', pushed by a bloc of provincial unions, was successful 69-21.


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In a press release, the NZR board said it "acknowledges the decision made by the voting members at a Special General Meeting (SGM) today to pass an amendment to its constitution to make its governance structure more independent, with all appointments to be recommended by an Appointments Committee. 


"This represents a significant change, and it is in the best interests of rugby that we move forward together.


"NZR Board will implement this decision as quickly as possible, including the process for applications for Board positions to ensure it has the best possible mix of skills, diversity, and perspectives. 


"We remain committed to engaging constructively with all rugby stakeholders to implement reform and provide certainty to the game.


"In the meantime, we continue to be focused on all aspects of the game, from community rugby through to our teams in black, competitions and sponsors."



The provincial unions also put out a statement, saying the "heart of the NZ game is secure"


"The majority of provincial unions that comprise New Zealand Rugby have voted to reformat the national board, so it retains links with the people who play it across the country. 


"The provincial unions voted for the second of two proposals to change who is appointed to the board, how they are selected, and how the board is advised by a stakeholder council. 


Rowena Duncum, spokesperson for the unions behind the second proposal, said the new system would ensure a modern and independent Board, which has experience and empathy for the 150,000 people who play and run the game across the country.


Three of the board members will be required to have amongst their governance skills, time on a provincial union board. The proposals were otherwise identical in their adoption of modern governance. 



“The heart of the game remains anchored in the people who play it,” she said.


 “The NZ Rugby board oversees the entire game, bottom to top, so we are pleased the NZ board will remain anchored in the entire game, bottom to top. 


“We will have a board capable of overseeing NZR’s international and commercial activity, and its management of the domestic game. “This decision ensures that the NZ Rugby board understands and appreciates how community rugby is affected by the decisions of it and the NZR."


A new board will be appointed as soon as practicable. Duncum said the unions expected plenty of applications from the hundreds of talented professionals with current or past experience running rugby boards and clubs across the nation. 


She said everyone who cared about community rugby would commit to the democratically chosen proposal


“The sun will rise on the games this weekend, as it always has. 150,000 people will be out on the playing fields, and the provincial unions will continue their work, unchanged.”

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