A scathing independent report, released just over a week before the start of the World Cup in France, has criticized New Zealand Rugby’s governing body as “unfit for purpose.” The report paints a grim picture of New Zealand Rugby, characterizing it as an outdated organization hindered by its own structure and ill-suited for the modern era.
David Pilkington, the chair of the review panel, stated, “New Zealand Rugby has evolved into a large and complex business in the professional era. However, the structure it operates within was not originally designed to accommodate a business of this size and complexity.”
The panel, which included former All Blacks captain Graham Mourie, was commissioned by New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association. It identified shortcomings in the governing body’s constitution and governance structure. The report revealed that an “overwhelming proportion” of the 191 individuals interviewed believed that the current arrangements result in a board that lacks the necessary qualifications to provide effective leadership for the sport.
Among its recommendations, the panel suggests implementing an independent process to ensure the appointment of a highly skilled, high-performing board to lead the organization. Additionally, it calls for the establishment of a ‘Stakeholder Council’ to ensure that voices from grassroots rugby and beyond are taken into account by New Zealand’s rugby leadership.
The report also raised concerns about the financial sustainability of the country’s elite-level rugby system. It stated that New Zealand rugby has an excessive number of professional players and questioned the viability of the current format of the NPC (New Zealand’s provincial competition) and the financial struggles faced by the five franchises participating in the top-level Super Rugby Pacific competition.
Dame Patsy Reddy, the chair of New Zealand Rugby, announced that the board will thoroughly review the report’s findings. She emphasized their commitment to considering all the recommendations. New Zealand’s All Blacks are set to kick off the World Cup against hosts France on September 8th