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

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.

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."

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

Blues CEO fronts up over appalling record, hints Umaga may get contract extension

Blues chief executive Michael Redman hasn't confirmed who will be the head coach of his struggling Super Rugby side next season but he did hint the man currently filling the role could still be there.

Redman addressed media today after the Blues 15th consecutive loss to a New Zealand rival in Super Rugby to clear the air around rumours involving the team and management.

With Umaga's current contract running out at the end of this season, Redman was pressed for what future the former All Black captain has at the Auckland franchise.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"There's plenty of support for Tana within New Zealand rugby and the Blues," Redman said.

"We think he has a great rugby brain, he has the respect of the players, he has my support and the support of the board so we'll work through a process to determine what the coaching group looks like.

"Obviously, the head coach is the most important appointment we make but he's one of four or five – I think getting the coaching group right around whoever the head coach is is important.

"Changing coaches every cycle hasn't worked for the Blues."

When challenged if his initial comments meant the assistant coaches, including Alistair Rogers, Dave Ellis and Stevie Jackson, were on the chopping block, Redman was quick to clarify his meaning.

"I'm simply pointing out that the head coach appointment is never made in isolation… all of our coaches are off contract this year and it provides an opportunity to review all of those roles."

Redman added that the Blues have struggled in the past to retain local talent and a programme installed four years ago at the club is the foundation for building a core unit that could see the Blues return to playoff rugby.

"It's 15 years since we last won a title but four years since we've been running this programme.

"All we can do is control the players we want to retain, we're doing that and I think you're seeing a crop of young players from this region who have achieved in this region, played well together and are becoming the nucleus of this team and soon to become the nucleus of the leadership group."

Redman pointed out the Ioane brothers as prime examples of talent the Blues were hoping to work around.

"Changing coaches every cycle hasn't worked," Michael Redman said. Source: 1 NEWS



Israel Dagg using stem cells to come back from troublesome knee problems - 'Not my old self, but I can still play footy'

Crusaders star Israel Dagg has admitted he used stem cell therapy in his rehabilitation in order to regenerate cartilage in his injured knee.

Dagg made his return to first-class rugby on Saturday in the Crusaders' 33-11 win over the Sunwolves - his first professional outing since representing the All Blacks last September in their Test against Argentina.

As part of his eight-month recovery, Dagg admitted he used stem cells to help him overcome a condition he called "knock knee" - a common term used for when the knee joint sits at an awkward angle.

"I have got no cartilage in my knee, so every time I jump it is just bone on bone; it just bruises, releases fluid," Dagg said.

"It would be alright if I just had to trundle around, but I have got to be explosive. But I am through it now, I am on the other side. I have just got to keep positive and deal with the new normal. I am not my old self, but I can still play footy. That is the main thing."

Dagg has had to change his running style to help accomodate the treatment which he described as being like learning to walk again.

"Hopefully it works, and apparently it regenerates cartilage and that is what I need. I need cartilage in between my bones, because pretty much it is just bone on bone.

"I think it is helping, it is doing its thing. At the end of the day I just have to get my body strong."

Dagg said he’s embracing the "new normal" after the treatment. Source: 1 NEWS