This is not the first time I have been asked to write about Aaron Smith's penis.

This is not the first time I have ... er, failed to see what all the fuss was about.

Smith's pre-tour toilet tryst has fuelled a descent into outrage that shows no signs of bottoming out.

That a man who adorns the sacred real estate of Weetbix boxes could be involved in such unwholesome activities was shocking for some.


He's a disgrace to the game, the black jersey - or probably more accurately the Barkers' dress shirt, and high-fibre breakfast cereals.

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Just as bemusing is the counter outrage from the "rugby players aren't role models" brigade (who ironically are generally the same people who routinely present rugby players as all round top blokes often in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary).

For God's (who also goes by the name of Shag in rugby circles) sake, they mused, poor Azza can't even cheat on his girlfriend in a public place at 2 o'clock in the afternoon while on official All Black duty without drawing scorn.

The incident should have been summed up with this: Smith showed an appalling lack of judgment, respect for his relationship, and toilet etiquette.

But following hard on the heels of other headline capturing scandals involving rugby players, including the far more odious Chiefs' treatment of a stripper at a post-season party and the furore over Losi Filipo escaping conviction for a violent assault, Smith's loo liaison has been seized upon as yet another example of All That Is Rotten About Rugby.

The bundling up of these incidents into one big shame umbrella has driven a push for change, including of why rugby need more women in governance roles.

As pleasing as it is to have this issue suddenly been taken more seriously, the reasons for it being so are not.


The Human Rights Commission launched a campaign four years (four years!) ago calling out rugby for its shameful lack of female representation at board level. The campaign, led by then commissioner Dr Judy McGregor and several high profile identities in the women's game, including former Black Ferns Farah Palmer and Louisa Wall, attracted little attention from the rugby media and was met with indignance by NZ Rugby officials.

NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey finally took up the cause earlier this year, launching an impassioned plea following an AGM in April for the sport to do more to encourage female leaders.

The speech ruffled a few feathers among the rugby hierarchy, who had been happily patting themselves on the back for making their way to the top on merit alone (presumably they just consider it a giant coincidence that all the people deemed the most meritorious are all white middle-aged men).

Former rugby chief David Rutherford, who now heads the Human Rights Commission, also recently spoke out about the need for more women in leadership following the public outcry over the Filipo case, helping the idea gain mainstream acceptance.

Holding up these incidents as reasons why women need a voice at the boardroom table is not entirely helpful.

Women have a lot more to offer the game than being the buttoned-up matriarch on hand to tisk tisk when the boys step out of line. It is about good governance, having diversity of thought and experiences and acknowledging women are an important part of the game.

Until the sport realises that and truly values the input of women, rather than seeing it as an exercise in social responsibility, its image will continue to go down the toilet.