Is it time for a female chief executive of New Zealand Rugby - and if so, who would be the leading contenders?

New Zealand Rugby's annus horribilis continued today as the lurid details of Aaron Smith's disabled toilet tryst emerged.

It also heaped more pressure on New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey and his chief executive Steve Tew about attitudes towards women in light of the Chiefs' stripper scandal and the Losi Filipo assault case where two of his four victims were female.

Impey recently claimed NZR was actively promoting women into key governance roles but critics say that is lip service.


They are also calling for Tew's head, saying the rugby boss has been around too long and needs to step aside to allow fresh blood and new attitudes to drive the sport.

There has never been a woman running New Zealand rugby but if that was too change, who would be the contenders...we list the top 6.

Therese Walsh: Ran a brilliant Cricket World Cup in terms of the NZ involvement in 2015 and worked on RWC 2011 hosting rights and tournament execution. Bright, vivacious and our leading contender. Currently the deputy chairwoman of TVNZ, Walsh is media-savvy, a clear thinker and most importantly, can hold her own in even the most male-dominated bastions. At the very least, she should be on NZ Rugby's board.

Joan Withers: Self-made businesswoman who now chairs TVNZ among a host of other corporate board responsibilities. Withers' sporting interest is equestrian and while she might struggle to explain the intricacies of the offside law, she cannot have the wool pulled over her eyes when it comes to the boardroom. She is a former CEO of Fairfax Media, so understands media pressure and expectations. She is excellent with big corporates and would present a refined, much softer face to rugby. But don't be fooled. Withers does not suffer fools.

Jenny Shipley: New Zealand's first female PM so why couldn't she be our first rugby boss as well. Shipley loves the game - and a challenge. Fixing rugby's broken public image is certainly one of those.

Raelene Castle: Currently the chief executive of the Canterbury Bulldogs NRL club, the Aussies noticed Castle's ability several years ago. She was headhunted from her role as the CEO of Netball New Zealand at the recommendation of now Warriors boss Jim Doyle. Castle has made a great fist of her three seasons at the Dogs and while she loves her league, a job as big as Tew's would no doubt attract her.

Liz Dawson: Dawson was the first New Zealand woman to gain a CEO job in Australian league, heading the now defunct Adelaide Rams in the ill-fated Super League. Dawson has since returned to New Zealand and is actually a part owner of the Hurricanes, meaning she is already involved in rugby. Dawson is also on the board of the Canes and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

Helen Clark: Hey, she looks like she might need a job soon! And can you imagine a dressing down from stern Helen? Even Jerome Kaino would shake in his boots over that one. However, rugby league is Helen's choice of codes which means the rah-rahs might miss out on her.