Putting into practice the findings of New Zealand Rugby's "Respect and Responsibility" review will not be easy but is imperative to change perceptions of the sport in this country, chief executive Steve Tew has admitted.
The review, which cost more than $150,000 - which Tew described as an investment rather than a cost - began in September last year. The findings were approved by New Zealand Rugby's board last month and released to the public today.
The catalyst for it was the Chiefs' high-profile stripper scandal which occurred during the team's Mad Monday celebrations last year. Afterwards the woman involved complained about being touched inappropriately and having things thrown at her.
She then complained about not being taken seriously by the Chiefs franchise or New Zealand Rugby when raising the issues.
Other incidents meant New Zealand Rugby had little choice but to seek to change and part of the review concentrated on an analysis of misconduct information from 2013-17, which covered 36 cases of misconduct, some described as serious, dealt with by New Zealand Rugby.
This involved 33 incidents involving players, two involving a team and one involving a club. No identities were revealed.
Of the cases, four individuals were repeat offenders. The incidents included:
• Failure to attend meetings, judicial hearings or assemble with the team.
• Lack of compliance with agreed programmes, including rehabilitation.
• Drunk behaviour
• Inappropriate sexual behaviour towards others
• Violent behaviour towards others, including team members and coaches
• Instances involving alcohol and drugs
• Homophobic slur overheard by public and complained about
In more than half the situations alcohol played a key factor.
Asked about the impact the incidents have had on New Zealand Rugby's commercial interests, Tew said: "There's no doubt that has an impact on the view people have of our sport, of our teams and of our brands. To date our partners have been supportive but there's no question they don't want to see the same things going on and on without some action.
"I think the very fact that we've sat down and done something that no one in sport has done in this country before, and perhaps nowhere else in the world, is not a bad signal."
Six goals have been set, including those concerning leadership, integrity and respect.
The review begins by stating New Zealand Rugby's mission is to "inspire and unify" New Zealanders, and admits that recent incidents "began to undermine rugby's place and contribution".
It adds: "[The] issues no longer reflected contemporary New Zealand's values and expected behaviours. These issues were of concern to people within the rugby family and wider community."
Tew said: "They're not all simple or easy to deliver and nor should they be. We are committing to real change, and to be leaders for that change. The integrity, reputation, and ultimate success of the game in New Zealand depends on this."
The review panel included former All Blacks Keven Mealamu and Sir Michael Jones, plus Olympic kayaker Lisa Carrington and others. It was led by Kathryn Beck, president of the New Zealand Law Society.
Two of the areas of focus were the impact of alcohol and use of recreational drugs on players and attitudes towards women.
New Zealand Rugby has appointed its chief financial officer and head of corporate services Nicki Nicol to lead the implementation of the review.
The review's six "aspirational" goals are:
• Inclusive leadership
• Progressive - developing people
• Integrity - nurturing wellbeing
• Empowering - gender equality
• Respectful - proactive engagement
• World-leading - accountable and independent
Asked about payment for the Black Ferns, who won the recent World Cup, and how that fitted into "gender equality", Tew said: "We acknowledge we don't pay them as much as we would like. The Black Ferns were paid at the last World Cup, but we've got work to do."