New Zealand Rugby has appointed the agency manager for Wellington Rape Crisis as their Respect and Responsibility Project manager in the wake of the recent controversies affecting their players.

The rugby union announced Eleanor Butterworth will work with the organisation to promote "healthy relationships across all levels of the game". In a statement, it added; "[She] brings experience in leading community family and sexual violence prevention, education and development programmes".

Ms Butterworth was previous Education and Programme Coordinator for Wellington Women's Refuge.

In addition to Ms Butterworth's appointment, Joe Harawira has been appointed as RugbySmart manager, an ACC initiative to encourage "positive health and welfare outcomes across all areas of rugby".

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New Zealand Rugby has been criticised for its response to the Chiefs' stripper scandal after the Super Rugby season finished, and its response to the case of Losi Filipo, a player charged by police with assualt.

The recent Aaron Smith controversy, in which he followed a woman into the disabled toilet at Christchurch airport, has added to the pressure on the union.

General Manager of Rugby, Neil Sorensen said the two roles were critical to NZR's commitment to safety and welfare in rugby.

"The programme we've developed over the past year with the support of ACC will target safety initiatives aimed at coaches, referees and players, as well as a tailored programme with an emphasis on respectful relationships, including consent, sexual assault and violence prevention.

"We're fortunate to have secured two highly experienced and committed people to take our existing RugbySmart programme to a whole new level."