NZRU sees women's participation in rugby as essential to growing game

By Mike Eagle

Statement from NZRU chairman Mike Eagle.

Many women already make an important contribution to running our organisation, says Mike Eagle. Photo / NZPA
Many women already make an important contribution to running our organisation, says Mike Eagle. Photo / NZPA

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) is committed to ensuring the organisation is representative of the community that plays and supports the game.

As part of that commitment, the NZRU is focused on attracting more women to the game at all levels - on the field and off the field.

We have in place a Women's Strategy, developed with leading rugby women, to help us reinvigorate the women's game and are pleased to see increasing numbers playing the game - 15,000 played last year, making up more than 10 per cent of player numbers.

The profile of the women's game is also rising with sevens inclusion in the Olympics.

One of the NZRU's six strategic goals is to win men and women's gold at the Olympics in Brazil in 2016 and we have had a huge response from female athletes to our Go4Gold campaign - around a thousand women put their hand up to be selected for the New Zealand Women's Sevens team.

As participation increases, we hope, and expect, more women will want to be involved off the field, including in governance roles, as has happened with other sports.

Many women already make an important contribution to running our organisation.

Of 85 staff, more than half (44) are women, including the chief financial officer.

There are no women on the NZRU board and we acknowledge this is an issue for us.

Dr Farrah Palmer, former captain of the Black Ferns, is on the NZRU Maori Board and our Rugby World Cup organising body had a woman on the board and a female chief operating officer.

We certainly welcome women on the board and have actively sought applications - 24 have applied for the board's two independent director positions in the past five years.

But it's not just women - we want our board to be representative of the rugby community.

That is why at a special general meeting last year the NZRU constitution was changed to underline that commitment to diversity.

The board of nine already required two independent directors and one Maori director.

The constitution now states that the board appointment process for independent directors must have regard to the gender, ethnicity of players and the need to reflect the whole of the New Zealand rugby community generally.

The NZRU also endorses the Olympic Charter's aim to support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures. And we support the initiative of Sport NZ and the NZ Olympic Committee to offer development scholarships to women who have shown leadership and want to pursue governance positions in sport.

Over the next few years we hope there will be a better balanced representation on our board to reflect the important role that women have in playing and supporting our sport.

The Grass Ceiling series
Yesterday:
NZ women sidelined from governing roles

Today:
NZRU deal stalls over women
Rugby criticised as 'last bastion of chauvinism'
Mike Eagle: NZRU sees women's participation in rugby as essential to growing game

Tomorrow:
We profile the women who have broken down the barriers to play a leading role in sport's management.

Have your say: Why are women lacking in sports boardrooms

- NZ Herald

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