Review Slams New Zealand Rugby’s Struggling Governance Structure
“Unfit for purpose in the modern era” is what has been unveiled by NZRU’s most recent independent review of the organisation structure and current constitution, calling for mass changes to improve the future of rugby union in New Zealand.
The review, led by David Pilkington, former Ports of Tauranga chair, was funded from the December 2022 deal after NZR secured a NZ$200 million (AUD 119 million) transaction selling stakes to U.S. private equity firm, Silver Lake.
Only just over a week out of the All Blacks’ opening World Cup clash against host nation, France, NZRU is in turmoil. The review addresses dysfunction and inconsistency in the leadership structure and calls for an urgent need for better support systems within the organisation. Criticising the current leadership team to solve any problems or make any decisions. Two central issues have been identified, NZRU’s relationship with the New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship (NPC) and their “pressing financial issues”.
There has been an evident decline in participation rates in the sport throughout the nation despite being home to three-time World Champion All Blacks, which begs the question of funding and where it is going. The report mentions sponsors who are critical of the NZRU board for not focusing on strategic business relationships to further support and develop the game. Instead, trying to enhance the “transactional” side of things.
The review focuses on New Zealand’s relationship with Super Rugby and questions NZRU about how they are going to be able to maintain funding for five Super Rugby teams as well as 14 NPC teams in a country that only consists of 5 million people.
The report states, “If Super Rugby is to be a viable, commercially attractive competition that fans will want to re-engage with, difficult matters must be addressed and decisions made, as the current approach of ‘a bet both ways’ is simply not working.”
The review addresses the current issue of rugby fans in New Zealand and the lack of priority they have been shown. Fans are what make and break the game and without outside support, there will be no way to fund and engage with both Super Rugby and NPC.
The governance review has asserted that New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is overseeing a declining sport and requires immediate reforms to tackle dysfunction within its leadership framework. The review emphasises the necessity of addressing issues in the leadership structure and addressing the challenges faced by the nation’s “unsustainable” professional game.