Players' Association calls for NZR board to resign

NZ Rugby Players' Association chief executive Rob Nichol. Photo: RNZ
NZ Rugby Players' Association chief executive Rob Nichol. Photo: RNZ
The New Zealand Rugby Players' Association has hit back at NZ Rugby's plans to enact a modified governance change to ones proposed by the Pilkington Report last year.

In a 16-page document released today, association head Rob Nichol reiterated that they had "not supported any of the proposals NZR or the provincial unions have made regarding NZR's Governance Reform".

The proposal cited a "lack of trust and confidence in the current leadership of NZR" and is in favour of adopting the recommendations of the report with no concessions.

"It has been eight months since the release of the review. The game is widely regarded as impotent/disorganised and incompetent and is essentially in a state of governance chaos," the statement said. 

"The very issues highlighted in the review and that contributed to its conclusion - that NZR governance is not fit for purpose - are literally manifesting themselves in front of New Zealand's eyes.

"There is now a leadership vacuum, and, as such, this proposal is designed to fill that vacuum and provide something the entire game can unite behind and support."

New Zealand Rugby chair Dame Patsy Reddy. Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand Rugby chair Dame Patsy Reddy. Photo: Getty Images
Nichol called for the current board, chaired by Dame Patsy Reddy, to step down and reapply for their positions under the framework of the Pilkington Report.

"It therefore stands that the existing NZR board is not fit for purpose and potentially finds itself acting in a caretaker capacity, pending the appointment of a new NZR board," Nichol said.

"Against that background, the honourable and appropriate thing to do is for the existing NZR board to offer their resignations and, should they desire, reapply through the newly constituted process."

That process would involve an independent board appointment committee, and "multi-stakeholder Implementation steering group", which would oversee the Pilkington Report's recommendations.

NZR had favoured a model that would see the current board serve until the end of their terms over the next couple of years.

The statement comes after a highly charged fortnight for the national game's leadership, in which provincial unions (PUs) had offered a counter proposal for NZR's upcoming Special General Meeting, which Reddy said she could not support and would offer her resignation if it was voted in.

This main sticking point for the provinces - who are understood to be concerned at their potential reduction in influence at board level - was addressed by Nichol, who said that "rugby now operates in a complex world".

"Ensuring the NZR Board has people with direct experience operating in these environments, and at the various levels, is important.

"Including this principle in any competency framework is aimed at assuring concerned PUs that this issue is recognised and will be addressed under the new model."