24 Jan 2020

New Zealand Rugby launches 'extensive' review into future of the sport

12:56 pm on 24 January 2020

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has launched an extensive review, involving all 26 provincial unions and five Super Rugby clubs, to ensure the sport remains sustainable over the next decade.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson Photo: Photosport

The review will be lead by NZR's chief operating officer Nicki Nicol. Other members include provincial union members; Michael Meehan (West Coast), Colin Groves (Waikato), Matt Evans (Wellington), Tony Smail (Canterbury) and Cushla Tangaere-Manuel (Ngati Porou East Coast).

Crusaders chair Grant Jarrold and Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark will represent the Super Rugby clubs.

A governance group has been set up to provide oversight of the review and provide input from every level of rugby in New Zealand. NZR board member Stewart Mitchell has been appointed the group's chair.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said that while rugby in New Zealand had a structure that had served it well for more than 125 years, the time was right to look at how rugby can best thrive and serve New Zealand communities in a rapidly changing society.

"We're experiencing an unparalleled period of change as the world is now closer, our communities are larger and connecting in modern and immediate ways, and new generations are engaging differently in activities centred around sport, entertainment and leisure.

"Rugby is under pressure in many parts of the game, from participation, fan engagement, talent retention and increasingly tough financial environments.

"We have seen significant growth in rugby since professionalism in 1996 but not all areas of the game have thrived in that environment and there is a never-ending drive to grow revenue and manage the cost base of the game.

"We want to ensure that rugby stays relevant and connected with fans and community, while still creating pathways and opportunities for emerging talent."

NZR has appointed a consulting partner to bring independence to this process.

Any outcomes and recommendations will be made public by the end of May.