Recent announcements by the New Zealand Rugby union and the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise have shown the tremendous advances and recognition, that women’s representation is receiving in rugby administration.
With the activity in this subject; including the positive messages of Women’s rugby and the successes of the Black Ferns women’s rugby team, it is no longer on the back pages. It sits dead center in the mainstream, with positive news stories and media releases.
And all the new appointments by NZ Rugby continue women’s representation as more than just ‘hearsay’. It is tangible change, with appointments, recognition and value added to the organization as a whole.
Dr Deb Robinson appointed to World Rugby Board
Highly regarded Black Ferns and former All Blacks team doctor, Dr Deb Robinson has been appointed as New Zealand Rugby’s first female representative on the World Rugby Council.
In an media release from the union, the position follows World Rugby governance reforms introduced to accelerate women’s representation on and off the field. Dr Deb Robinson is a fine candidate, to represent the NZ Rugby interests, as well as those of female athletes and stakeholders.
Robinson is the current team doctor for the world champion Black Ferns and spent seven years as doctor for the All Blacks, including their winning 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign. “Joining the Council is a great opportunity to continue my contribution to the game at a governance level.
“Player welfare is at the forefront of a lot of what World Rugby is doing and I can offer expertise in that area as someone who has been heavily involved in rugby medicine” said Dr Robinson.
NZ Rugby continue positive actions from World Rugby
World Rugby’s 2017-25 Women’s Plan underpins a commitment to be a global leader in sport, where women have equal opportunities in all areas, are integrated in strategy, plans and structures and, make highly valued contributions to participation, performance, leadership and investment in the global game.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “This is a major milestone in the progression, gender equality and growth in World Rugby. The reform is historic, reflective of our ambitions and long overdue. If we are to promote and nurture the growth of women in rugby then change must be led from the top.”
Dr Deb Robinson demonstrates the equal opportunities in rugby, after taking her place on the rugby field within the All Blacks team, she has been endorsed by the organization itself.
Dr Robinson was a part of the Respect and Responsibility review panel, which included Jackie Barron, Liz Dawson, Michael Jones, Keven Mealamu, David Howman, Kate Daly, and Lisa Carrington.
A valued member of staff, she is committed to all areas of the game, and will represent the union with integrity, respect and with a mind for players needs.
Chiefs Board elects new Chairwoman
In a touchstone decision in Rugby administration, Tonia Cawood has been appointed the new Chairwoman of the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise. A meteoric rise, as Cawood only joined the board in November as an independent director, but a huge move in empowering gender equality.
Over just a few meetings, the 43-year old Waikato native has been unanimously voted to lead the board for the next two years. The new seven-person board was announced in November, featured new faces, with Cawood being brought in as Chair; adding a distinct new touch to the organization.
Congratulations to Tonia Cawood, believed to be "the first woman chair of any professional rugby club in the world" as she becomes the new chair of the #Chiefs! https://t.co/uQqolI3uOB pic.twitter.com/O8H4xGhYpT
— Global Women (@NZGlobalWomen) February 26, 2018
The decision is both reflective of a change in culture, and a continuing trend. Cawood joins Dr Farah Palmer as leading identities of women’s representation. Dr Palmer was added to the NZR board in December 2015, and also has the women’s provincial rugby competition named in her honour.
Respect and Responsibility improvement through Women’s Representation
Cawood is seen as a positive reaction by the Chiefs, who in 2016 felt the brunt of public distaste of the ‘Stripper’ scandal that rocked New Zealand rugby to it’s core.
That, and the modernization of sport, saw the introduction of the Respect and Responsibility policies by NZ Rugby in September 2017. The review covers some of the aspirational goals:
- Inclusive Leadership
- Empowering Gender Equality
- World Leading
In viewing both the appointment of Dr Deb Robinson, Tonia Cawood and others in positions of influence, the markers are pointing toward an uptake of the values and ideals. While Cawood has been asked about implementing a new culture, she was quick to tell Fairfax Media, “some have said to me, ‘Great, you’ve been appointed to go in there and help fix the culture’. I immediately correct that.
“Because the Chiefs have one of the strongest cultures of any organisation I’ve ever walked into.”
The women whom have been recognized have not been appointed to make changes – those have already mostly been identified. But to illustrate that equality, integrity and being respectful is a continuation of NZ Rugby policy. All have been chosen for their qualities and are fully qualified. It supports the final goal by the national body; which was to be World Leading.
In recent appointments, New Zealand Rugby has certainly shown that it can lead both that; ‘on the field’ and off of it too.
“Main photo credit”
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