New Zealand Rugby report flags alcohol and sexism issues

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew says there is a growing sense of entitlement among young players. Hannah Peters/Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby must combat a number of inherent issues, including alcohol abuse, sexism and a sense of entitlement, a new report has found.

The 'respect and responsibility' review was commissioned by NZR last year following a number of scandals involving players.

It states that "events prior to and in 2016 began to undermine rugby's place and contribution" in New Zealand society, and no longer reflected the country's "contemporary values and expected behaviours."

One of the most prominent incidents saw All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith charged with misconduct after he was seen accompanying a woman into a toilet cubicle at Christchurch Airport.

The review -- which took place between November 2016 and July 2017 -- investigated 36 cases of misconduct over the last four years, with all but three of the cases involving individual players.

It found that drugs and alcohol played a key role in over half of the reported incidents, which included violent and inappropriate sexual behaviour towards others, as well as homophobia.

One of the other key issues highlighted was the sense of entitlement among many young players in New Zealand.

"What the review has done has really focused us that to get to the kids early enough we're going to have to start while they're at school," said NZRU chief executive Steve Tew.

"What's happening in schools rugby is that, particularly with first XV competitions which are a big part of the image of the school, these kids are getting a sense of entitlement and privilege far too early for their emotional and mental development.

"That means we're getting young men -- and they are very young -- who have already got all the good stuff but probably not the tools to deal with the challenges and responsibilities that come with it."

The panel behind the report -- chaired by New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck -- made over 100 recommendations and advised that six 'key goals' be pursued in the coming years.

The goals detailed include: 'inclusive leadership, 'developing people', 'nurturing wellbeing', 'gender equity', 'proactive engagement' and 'being accountable and independent.'

NZR chairman Brent Impey said: "Undertaking any significant culture change in any organisation is complex and takes time.

"The NZR board is committed to setting a long-term programme for action that will deliver a number of activities in the short, medium and long-term.

"Rugby has long been held up as one of the unique vehicles for New Zealanders to feel connected to each other, to be inspired, and be great members of their communities.

"We want to play our part in those opportunities and ensure rugby plays a positive role in our society."