31 Aug 2018

Rugby money should go to women and diversity, not All Blacks - MP

1:05 pm on 31 August 2018

If the government is to give more money to rugby, then it should go to women and diversity in the sport, not the All Blacks.

Louisa Wall

Louisa Wall Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

That's the view of former Black Fern, Member of Parliament and current Women in Sport Aotearoa board member Louisa Wall.

She told the Fair Play podcast if the government was to fund anything to do with rugby, it should be to help women and migrant communities gain access to the sport.

Ms Wall's comments followed questions from All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen and NZR boss Steve Tew to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and sports minister Grant Robertson after Saturday's double header against Australia at Eden Park.

The Black Ferns 45-17 win secured the Laurie O'Reilly Cup, while the men's team won the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th straight year.

Hansen and Tew said the top male players are being lured to overseas clubs because of the big dollars on offer.

They suggested to the Prime Minister that public money should go into the players' pay packets to ensure they stay in New Zealand.

Ms Wall disagreed.

"In regards to giving specific amounts to specific [male] players, I don't think that's the government's responsibility," she said. "The government should be supporting the sport of rugby… in a really discernable way.

"Those ways would be to look at how we can better support our women players… and engagement from migrant and ethnic communities where rugby isn't part of their heritage."

Ms Ardern told a Women in Governance conference last week that rugby is a game for everyone - including women - and that the sport needs to be more inclusive.

She said rugby does deserve to be called New Zealand's national sport, "but with that title we need to make sure we're striving to lift the outcomes for women in sport as well".

Dr Farah Palmer, a former international player, is the first and only woman on the NZR board.

"All national sporting organisations and subsidiaries who are receiving any form of public… funding should contribute to addressing issues of gender equality," Ms Wall said.

And while change is happening, Ms Wall believed more representation was needed.

"For the first time ever, every single provincial board has a woman sitting around the table. But you can't create change with just one person. You need critical mass.

"[But] you are still seeing those challenges on the NZR board itself."

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