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Renowned names to review NZ Rugby culture

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/11/2016

Law Society president Kathryn Beck will oversee a high-profile group appointed to review the culture of respect and responsibility in New Zealand Rugby.

The sport's governing body announced details on Wednesday of the review, prompted by negative incidents which have engulfed the sport this year.

In August, NZR was criticised for its response to an incident involving a stripper at a Chiefs' season-ending event.

Soon afterwards came an outcry over the case of Losi Filipo, a Wellington teenage player charged by police with assault.

Beck will be joined on a review panel which includes three well-known sports identities - former All Blacks Michael Jones and Keven Mealamu, along with Olympic canoeing double gold medallist Lisa Carrington.

Others on the nine-person panel are former World Anti-Doping Agency head David Howman, former All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson, former netball administrator Jackie Barron, New Zealand Cricket and Hurricanes board member Liz Dawson and communications executive Kate Daly.

It follows the recent appointment of Eleanor Butterworth, the agency manager for Wellington Rape Crisis, as NZ Rugby's respect and responsibility project manager.

Beck welcomed the opportunity to lead the review, describing it as an "important piece of work".

She said should could sense a desire from NZR officials to drive change in the way rugby addresses issues of respect and responsibility.

"Rugby in New Zealand is in a unique position where it should be able to inspire and encourage New Zealanders - young and old - to be the very best people they can be," she said.

"I am delighted with the calibre of the panel as I believe they will help New Zealand Rugby to have a meaningful, and real, assessment of its culture."

A preliminary report will be provided to the NZR Board in April.

Chief executive Steve Tew said NZR was ready to step up to better meet the public's expectations around an education programme for players and improving the culture of the professional game.

"There is still a significant opportunity, need and desire to further improve the culture and overall standards of behaviour within the professional game," Tew said.

Chairman Brent Impey said the review would address the processes already in place to ensure rugby plays a positive role in society.

Impey says NZR has expectations of how players and management at all levels of the game should conduct themselves.

"We want to review how these expectations are communicated and ingrained to ensure the standards of conduct and the underlying culture of respect and responsibility are clearly understood and maintained."

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