Rugby-Players' union threatens split over NZR board reforms

  • Rugby
  • Tuesday, 21 May 2024

(Reuters) - New Zealand's players' union has threatened to split with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and set up a new governing body for the professional game if proposed reforms are scuppered by the country's provincial unions later this month.

The game's stakeholders will vote on a new leadership structure at a Special General Meeting of NZR on May 30 but two competing proposals have been tabled.

The first proposed by Rugby New Zealand chairwoman Patsy Reddy calls for all members of the board to be independent, as advised by a governance review which reported last year.

The 26 provincial unions have drawn up another plan -- Proposal 2 -- which demands that at least three of the nine members have two years' experience on one of their boards.

In a letter to stakeholders which was leaked to all main media outlets in New Zealand on Tuesday, the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association (NZRPA) said they would not accept Proposal 2 or the existing structure.

"Should Proposal 2 be adopted, or the status quo prevail, the professional players will no longer pass to NZR, via a collective employment agreement, the right to govern the professional game," it read.

"(Proposal 2) entrenches ... failed processes and leaves the professional players with no option but to establish alternative governance arrangements for the professional game in New Zealand."

Reddy said in March that she would consider her position if her proposal failed to pass at the SGM.

The governance review was commissioned in December 2022after NZR secured a NZ$200 million ($121.94 million) cash injection by selling a stake in its commercial business to U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake.

The review said NZR's leadership structure was not fit for purpose in the modern age.

($1 = 1.6402 New Zealand dollars)

(Reporting by Michael Perry)

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