Respectful and Inclusive Culture

Creating a more respectful and inclusive culture

We are committed to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone who interacts with our sport and we hold ourselves accountable to this by measuring our performance against this strategic priority. While it’s great to report that we have achieved our goals in this area for 2019, it is the impact these pieces of work have, not just on our game, but on our communities in general that is the most important.


Rugby is made up of an incredibly diverse community and for the sport to thrive, it is important to us to reflect that community in leadership roles across our game. This year we held the first parallel conference for Rugby Chairs and Women in Governance with the purpose of building an environment where diversity is welcomed and championed at board level. The conference explored governance trends, sports trends and focused on an inclusive and thriving culture in rugby.

The Good Governance work programme was developed to support existing governance structures and to create opportunities to increase diversity. We have invested in BoardPro so that all Provincial Unions and Super Rugby Clubs can strengthen their board management process. The next phase is to develop an aspiring director and mentoring programme to create a pipeline for a diverse range of candidates to apply for governance and leadership roles in rugby.

Learning Management System

We were pleased to announce the launch of our Learning Management System (LMS) that will provide an online platform to deliver valuable learning to our rugby
communities. A specific Director Induction module was developed to help welcome new Board members into their role, including information to help accelerate knowledge of the rugby ecosystem delivered in a seven-part short video series covering the basics of The Rugby Way, NZR Structures, Funding, Strategic Priorities and Resources.

Learning and Development

We know that it takes time to instil culture change, and the induction process was highlighted as an opportunity to support positive behaviour from the beginning and
clearly set expectations and provide support. In 2018, the NZR education team led a stocktake of our learning and development, engaging with rugby stakeholders to ensure we had a clear overview of our education programmes. This stocktake identified key stakeholders that had limited L&D engagement with NZR, developing our focus groups for 2019 and 2020. Tailored workshops and programmes are
in development for Governance and NZR staff, Mitre 10, Super and National Team Managers.

The Rugby Way

We continued to work towards embedding The Rugby Way values and behaviours in everything we do as a rugby community. As a focus of the Chairs and Women in
Governance Conferences, alongside a full day workshop with our Provincial Union CEOs, we shared the importance of our values not being just a superficial poster on our office and clubroom walls, but being something we own and live by.

We held a Rugby Way Provincial Union CEO workshop in July, providing an opportunity to learn from those who are delivering The Rugby Way culture change initiatives in their communities. Shannon Paku and Craig Calder shared their experiences of success and challenges of a culture change programme.

The Rugby Way Culture Change Programme

The NZR Respect and Inclusion team developed an integrated culture change programme for Provincial Unions, focusing on how we can create great environments. We had several unions trialling components of the programme in 2019, and we aim to test it with a second cohort of unions in 2020.

While this programme is not focused solely on increasing participation of Māori, a component of this programme will also be to ensure Provincial Unions, and clubs, are well connected with their local communities and iwi.

Navigating Two Worlds

While we have a high representation of Māori and Pasifika on the rugby field, this hasn’t traditionally translated into leadership roles off the field. Navigating Two Worlds (N2W) develops leadership practices within non-playing rugby roles, including administration, governance, refereeing and coaching. N2W is a multi-year action research project established in collaboration with AUT Sports Performance Research Institute (SPRINZ), NZR and Auckland Rugby.

The project results are expected in early April 2020 with recommendations on the next steps for rugby.

Harm Prevention Framework

We know that rugby can have a real impact on reducing harmful behaviour in our society, so we have developed a world-leading ‘Harm Prevention Framework’ which has been endorsed by the NZR Board, and implementation has begun. We are currently implementing a harm prevention education programme focusing on consent, healthy relationships, family violence prevention and bystander skills.