New Zealand Rugby has recognised it needs to do more to improve attitudes towards women with the formation of a panel charged with heading a respect and responsibility review of the national game.

Kathryn Beck, president of the New Zealand Law Society and an employment lawyer, will head a nine-person panel charged with examining the quality and effectiveness of the NZR's current policies, procedures, and programs, to help improve and further build a culture of respect and responsibility in professional rugby environments.

The appointment of a panel comes in the wake of a number of scandals to hit rugby, including the Chiefs' strippergate, the Losi Filipo assault case and Aaron Smith's toilet tryst.

Watch: Brent Impey talks about the NZR Respect and Responsibility programme

Beck acknowledged the appointment of a female chair was necessary to make clear the panel's focus on improving attitudes and behaviours towards women and insists NZR is committed to making changes.


"I think it was quite deliberate that a woman was made chair of this panel," said Beck.

"It is a very clear focus on women and the impact of the respect and responsibility within the rugby community on women, both within the community and externally.

"In terms of what can we do, that remains to be seen, but certainly there's a huge will to do better - and that doesn't just come from the panel - that comes from the people setting it up as well.

"There's a recognition that rugby needs to do better."

Beck is joined on the panel by former All Blacks greats Michael Jones and Keven Mealamu, double Olympic canoeing champion Lisa Carrington, former World Anti-Doping Agency head David Howman, respected former All Blacks doctor Dr Deb Robinson, New Zealand Cricket and Hurricanes board member Liz Dawson, Sport New Zealand board member and former netball administrator Jackie Barron and HR and communications executive Kate Daly.

"It was really important that that panel was varied and independent," she said.

"Lisa Carrington is a very high quality athlete and a useful person as well that can talk to us and provide that insight and view from that perspective."

A preliminary report will be provided to the NZR board next April with the outcomes of the panels recommendations expected next May.
Policies and programs relating to drugs and alcohol would also come under the microscope and Beck believed education around all of these issues could begin at the lowest levels of junior rugby.
"The sooner you start appropriate messages the better.
"Drugs and alcohol, we've seen that in some of the recent events, is certainly an issue that we need to look at.
"There are some good policies in place around drugs and alcohol already, the question is what's happening underneath that."