'Rugby has such a strong position in NZ' - Steve Tew says diversity campaign the tip of the iceberg for NZR leading societal change

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New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew says the new diversity campaign the All Blacks and Black Ferns are part of is just the beginning of the governing body's approach to changing inclusiveness in the rugby community.

The NZR boss says supporting players and a new programme being introduced at community level will also help them 'walk the walk'.
Source: Breakfast

Tew told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning a new programme was being added to rugby around the country to ensure the new message the governing body wants presented is being done.

"The key thing is that we walk the talk - that we do present rugby as a welcoming and inclusive sport.

"We're launching a thing called 'The Rugby Way' which we hope will give people a framework for our behaviour in any context.

"We acknowledge but people have different views, as Israel (Folau) did, but we expect them to be presented in a respectful way."

Read more: Wallabies star Israel Folau condemns gay people to 'HELL' in controversial online post

Tew said the "Diversity is Strength" campaign alongside major sponsor AIG was both good for marketing and showing where they stand.

"I think the whole issue around discrimination in Japan is quite topical as it is all around the world at the moment," Tew said.

"They've used our players to present a part of their campaign, it's only a part of it, but it's a very big market... when you team up with an organisation like AIG then you clearly get a lot more scale and oompf than what you would get on your own."

Tew admitted that past issues, including the Chiefs' scandal involving a stripper at Mad Monday celebrations, were also factors in NZR wanting to take on a larger role in changing society's views on diversity.

"In New Zealand, we've made the call following some difficult moments two or three years ago that we could actually be at the forefront of societal change.

"Rugby has such a strong position in New Zealand as other sports do around the world that you can take a stand."

But the NZR CEO also said there positive examples the governing body could see, including the way in which players such as TJ Perenara and Brad Weber retaliated on social media to Wallabies winger Israel Folau's statement that gay people are going to hell unless they repent for their sins.

"TJ and Brad summed it up really so we didn't need everyone jumping into the conversation - I think it was done really well."

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