CEO Steve Tew says New Zealand Rugby will keep working hard with all of their communities to get better after hiring of Respect and Responsibility Project manager.

New Zealand Rugby yesterday 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".

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".

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 assault.

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.

Tew told Martin Devlin today that New Zealand Rugby will keep working hard with all of their communities to get better.

Listen: Steve Tew on the DRS

"Rugby is a mirror of New Zealand society and that's why we have all the good things going on and that's why we have some of the things we don't like. We've got to keep working hard with all of our communities to get better. And we will," Tew told Devlin on Radio Sport's The DRS today.

Tew says the hiring of Butterworth will bring a new perspective to NZR.

"We already have induction programmes and we have ongoing education of our players in partnership with the players association, that's all part and parcel of what we do. What we're saying is with a few more resources we can crank that up. Eleanor will bring a new perspective for us which is really healthy. We're just looking to improve the quality and quantity of the infrastructure we've got around our guys," he said.

Tew added New Zealand Rugby still have work to do in terms of female representation.

"It's very evident in the community level of the game isn't it? Mums are absolutely critical to young boys and girls playing. If mums aren't on board then we've got a real issue. So we've got a lot of mums involved in the community game and we're got increasingly a number of women involved as chief executives around the country in provincial unions and on boards. We've still got work to do in our governance structures, club, provincial and at New Zealand level, all reflect society across a range of diversities not just gender."

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."