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AAP/PA Images The Black Ferns pictured in 2019.
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'Do better' - New Zealand rugby review finds culturally insensitivity and body shaming
The findings were in an independent ‘cultural and environmental’ review of the Black Ferns.

NEW ZEALAND RUGBY’S chief executive says the governing body has “to do better” after coaches were found to have made culturally insensitive comments to the country’s top women players and indulged in favouritism and body-shaming.

The findings were in an independent “cultural and environmental” review of the Black Ferns, the New Zealand women’s team, sparked by allegations from hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate.

She alleged in December on Instagram that she had suffered a mental breakdown because of critical comments made by head coach Glenn Moore.

The post was made shortly after the Black Ferns’ disastrous 2021 tour of the northern hemisphere in which they lost all four Tests to France and England.

At the time, Chris Lendrum, NZ Rugby general manager of professional rugby and performance, said the allegations were “distressing to read”.

The review said the on-tour situation had been “not well managed or monitored”.

Defending champions New Zealand host the World Cup this year, beginning 8 October.

Moore will still be in charge and said he was “committed” to learning from the review.

“Participating in high-performance sport, whether as a coach, player, or part of the management team, can present unique challenges,” Moore said in a statement.

“The findings have highlighted a number of those challenges. There are learnings from the review. I am committed to ensuring those are taken on board.”

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson apologised in a statement released late Monday.

“No one should be in any doubt about our commitment to the progression of women’s rugby in this country,” said Robinson.

“This report highlights that we haven’t got everything right and we apologise for not having provided all the tools for our people to succeed.”

The review found that Ngata-Aerengamate’s concerns were “not isolated” and other players, notably of Maori or Pasifika background, had experienced similar behaviour from members of management.

About 50 percent of the squad are Maori and 25 percent Pasifika. Asked why they did not complain, they said they were worried “it would adversely affect selection chances”.

The review said a greater understanding from management was needed on how to communicate with these players in a sensitive and inclusive manner with regard to gender, culture and sexuality.

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The report added that focus on weight measurements rather than performance led “to some experiencing body-shaming”.

NZR said it would create support and resources to improve team culture and place emphasis on the health and wellbeing of players and management, with the work already under way.

– © AFP 2022

In the final episode of the series, The Front Row – The42’s new rugby podcast in partnership with Guinness – welcomes comedian Killian Sundermann in to studio. The online funnyman fills us in on his schools rugby days, gaining recognition during the pandemic, making his stand-up debut and travelling around Europe in a van. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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