Steve Tew: Rugby's troubling culture will not be fixed overnight

New Zealand Rugby's troubling culture will not be fixed overnight, the sport's boss Steve Tew has told English newspapers.

Long-time chief executive Steve Tew acknowledged the game in New Zealand has been rocked by sexual and violent incidents but while recognising there are serious problems, he insisted the sport is merely reflecting society.

Tew, who has been in his position since 2001, is in the United Kingdom on the All Blacks' end-of-season tour and defended the game's image here in interviews with leading English media outlets.

The Guardian noted Tew has broad shoulders, suggesting it is just as well given the need "to absorb the pummelling from his critics in recent months".

The paper said the Tew came "out fighting" in its interview while accepting New Zealand's rugby culture needs reform.

"There are a few journalists that have decided they will do my performance review on a daily basis," he told the Guardian. "It has got personalised. If I thought I wasn't good enough for the job I wouldn't stay.

"But we have to be realistic - we will not change the culture of New Zealand overnight."
Aaron Smith's toilet tryst, the Chiefs Strippergate scandal and the Losi Fulipo assault case were all regurgitated in the English reports.

Tew acknowledged there were serious problems with some players' behaviour but also insisted his sport merely reflects society.

"I would hasten to add the players in particular don't turn up fresh in a plastic box when they come into professional rugby. They have come from families, communities, church groups, and schools, so they are already shaped by New Zealand society. So the behaviour then reflected in our players is very similar to other people in New Zealand. It's just that rugby comes under the spotlight."

But he said NZR was not dodging its responsibility to change attitudes within the game.

"We are not shying away from our responsibilities," he said. "We have pulled together a very strong independent group to help us review what we are doing - and we clearly do not want a sport that is disrespectful of any segment of our population, whether that is based on race, sexuality or gender. We have to make sure that is not accepted or tolerated in rugby. But again I would say it just reflects what is going on in society."

The Guardian noted that during Tew's tenure, a woman is yet to be elected to NZR's board. The paper said he was "on firmer ground when talking about other rugby matters such Eddie Jones's rejuvenation of England - even suggested they could break New Zealand's recently set unbeaten record - and the Lions tour next year.

"England had a long way to come back after the World Cup but good on them," he said. "They've made some big decisions. I'm not close enough to determine whether their success is sustainable but you would give them more than an outside chance of breaking our record."

He added that anticipation was high in New Zealand over the Lions tour.

"For us it's the best event outside the World Cup," he said. "It's an enormous economic driver and it's also helpful in retaining our players. A number of our guys have said: 'Well, the Lions are on the horizon,' so they have committed to us for another year or two. It's going to be very good for rugby in terms of showcasing the best of our game."

He predicted it would be a closer series than in 2005 when the All Blacks swept the Lions 3-0.

"You look at the best players coming out of the England camp as well as Scotland, Ireland and Wales and you'll have a good side."

As for Ireland tomorrow?

"We're not going to win every game and it probably wouldn't be good for world rugby if we did anyway," he said. "We came up against a very good side who were incredibly well coached. A couple of Kiwi boys were pretty critical in that - but that's all good. It sets up this weekend quite nicely."

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 25 Feb 2017 13:14:31 Processing Time: 411ms