NZ Rugby Confirm Key Health and Welfare Appointments

ITM Cup 2015 Season Launch
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 30: New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen during the 2015 ITM Cup season launch at New Windsor School on July 30, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images for NZRU)
The following article takes excerpts from an NZ Rugby ‘Press release’ on key Health and Welfare appointments.

NZ Rugby Confirm Key Health and Welfare Appointments

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) today announced the key appointment of Eleanor Butterworth as new Respect & Responsibility Project Manager, and Joe Harawira as RugbySmart Manager.

Ms Butterworth will lead NZR’s programme to enhance the skills and knowledge of healthy relationships, across all levels of the game. She brings experience in leading community, family and sexual violence prevention, education and development programmes.

Currently the Agency Manager for Wellington Rape Crisis and previously Education and Programme Coordinator for Wellington Women’s Refuge, Ms Butterworth will join NZR in late November.

Multiple appointments to aid NZ Rugby

In addition to the appointment of the Respect & Responsibility Project Manager, Joe Harawira has recently started as RugbySmart Manager. An ACC initiative to encourage positive health and welfare outcomes across all areas of rugby, from the community level through to the professional environment.

General Manager of Rugby, Neil Sorensen (main picture) said the two roles were critical to NZR’s commitment to safety and welfare in rugby.

“The programme we’ve developed over the past year with the support of ACC will target safety initiatives aimed at coaches, referees and players, as well as a tailored programme with an emphasis on respectful relationships, including consent, sexual assault and violence prevention.

“We’re fortunate to have secured two highly experienced and committed people to take our existing RugbySmart programme to a whole new level.”

Player Welfare, Respect and Responsibility

Player welfare is a wide ranging measure, that will include components like RugbySmart, Smallblacks and the strong relationship with the New Zealand Rugby Players Association. All these components are based on the values that the game is built on. NZ Rugby have many positive components that all contribute to building good attitudes and behaviors in players from a junior level upward.

Those steps are primary to the actions that have created the need for these appointments. And some of the behaviour has been very public, so the reaction must be an entirely positive reaction. This has not always been performed well by NZR administration. Sorensen has [at times] had to work hard at ‘making things good’.

His role is becoming more clean up more than progressive, and it must be frustrating. From the Julian Savea and Zac Guildford press conferences, to Ali Williams indiscretions and now, Losi Filipo. Sorensen has brought a level of sensitivity to the face of NZR often missing. A caring hand on the shoulder for players, that this new Respect & Responsibility Project Manager can now work to install the right behaviors and attitudes.

New attitude from NZ Rugby

In September, CEO Steve Tew was adamant that his organisation could implement positive change. He spoke of how NZR would go about this change, who they intended to work with. It now appears that those assertions have proved true.

Tew spoke with RadioSport, to point out the benefits and key health and welfare appointments made that aim to return the public’s confidence in the NZR, and the young men and women who represent it on the field, and in public.

Last Word On Sports believe that early steps, and key health and welfare appointments being made now go a way towards remedying many of the issues. Several more steps are required of course, to move past the Chiefs episode and Aaron Smith suspension. That will take time.

New members of staff are one step, as well as appointments to the NZR Board. Confidence will then filter through to all stakeholders when the behaviors and attitudes soon mirror those of society, and the values of the sport.

“Main photo credit”

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