All Blacks New Zealand

New Zealand’s scrumhalf Aaron Smith (R) dives over to score a try that was later disallowed. Photo: AFP

New Zealand Rugby set for sweeping reforms

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson says that the organisation is going through rapid changes.

All Blacks New Zealand

New Zealand’s scrumhalf Aaron Smith (R) dives over to score a try that was later disallowed. Photo: AFP

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has conceded that the organisation is undergoing a “rapid-change process” as it attempts to address internal concerns.

An assessment deemed the governing body to be “unfit for purpose” in August, with Super Rugby sides struggling financially.

New Zealand Rugby set for reforms

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As a result, NZR has attempted to enact reform, which Robinson claims is presently underway.

“We welcome the opportunity to look at doing things better,” Robinson told Stuff. “We’re going through a rapid-change process … we need to adapt and modernise.

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“[The review] looked at all facets of the game and contributing stake-holders. Recognising we’re in a state of transformation and have got to embrace the opportunity to improve are things, as CEO, I’m absolutely committed to.”

NZR’s main goal is to rekindle interest in Super Rugby, which includes making the game more ‘fan-centric.’

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At the moment, the competitions NZR is involved in have dropped behind the northern hemisphere and the bi-hemisphere URC, but Robinson is certain that they will catch up.

He also feels that despite the financial issues that all governing bodies face in the game, New Zealand Rugby is in a “good spot.”

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“In New Zealand scrutiny around the game is significant and because we’re a small country that cares deeply there are a lot of people pointing out the challenges we’ve had,” he said.

“But when you look across the world and compare us to other national unions, I think we’re in a good spot.

“We’ve got a huge amount to be proud of. When you reflect, the second part [of 2023] was the first bit of real stability for a long time.

“We had two-plus years of Covid and disruption, and it feels like we’re in a pretty good space.”

Opening up the game

He wants to see the game opened up to more people in the near future.

“What can we do to drive participation and growth in the community game? There are opportunities in player welfare. We want to make the game more accessible and engaging at all levels,” he added.

“NZR Commercial is just standing up. And there’s this whole opportunity around the international game where we see room for improvement.

“It’s OK to acknowledge we’ve got lots we can get better at. But we should recognise we’ve done a hell of a lot of good that we can be really proud of too.”