NZR Chair Brent Impey: Letter to the Editor

I am compelled to reply to the “loss of values” article written by Mark Reason on Stuff in relation to World Rugby nominations. His criticism of New Zealand Rugby's (NZR) nomination of Bart Campbell is misplaced and demonstrates a lack of understanding as to how governance works. Bart brings a unique set of skills as a former Chair of a successful professional sports organisation (including Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast Lightning ), operating a player agent business, and promoter of many successful rugby events for NZR, including the Tests in Chicago, the Barbarians match at Twickenham and the 2018 Test in Japan. He and NZR disclosed his business interests to World Rugby in an open manner.

The NZR Board considered the skills gaps we identified at World Rugby. There are enough rugby administrators or former Test players such as John Jeffrey who have held their positions for years and years. We believe World Rugby requires major change. The failure of the Nations Championship, the lack of progress developing what are known as Tier 2 countries, the self-protection of certain Six Nations countries and the lack of clarity around the rules are just three examples. Bart brings a much needed set of skills including both a deep understanding of the professional game and the revenue drivers that are going to be necessary in the post COVID-19 world. Yes, it would be easy for NZR to nominate the next “director in line”, myself for example, but the Board rightly considered what gaps were on World Rugby, and who could add the most value. Bart is that person. Really Mark, your views are of a bygone era. The old boys club you praise have made little or no progress, and change is overdue.

One more thing. Mark Reason criticises NZR for doing little for the grassroots game. NZR is offering all the support we can to Provincial Unions (PU) to get through this. Cuts to PU spending is minor compared to the professional game; that is because our emphasis is to get clubs and schools back up playing as soon as possible.

Brent Impey
Chair NZR