Time for talk is over - New Zealand Rugby must be ruthless with review reality
OPINION: New Zealand Rugby deserves respect for taking responsibility to identify the problems that plague the national game but it now must be ruthless in rectifying them.
The findings of rugby's "Respect and Responsibility" review were unveiled in Auckland on Thursday.
They represent a good deal of honesty and should be viewed that way rather than some form of navel-gazing.
This wasn't an in-house whitewash, a criticism pointed at some previous reviews coming out of a headquarters that has cynically been referred to as "The Kremlin".
This was an independent review. Importantly, it was headed by a woman and had four other women among the eight people on the high-quality panel.
Here are the names for a reminder of the sort of people involved in this.
The panel was led by Kathryn Beck, the Law Society president, who was joined by Sport NZ board member and former netball administrator Jackie Barron, New Zealand Cricket and Hurricanes board member Liz Dawson, former World Anti-Doping Agency head David Howman, HR and communications executive Kate Daly, All Black greats Michael Jones and Keven Mealamu, former All Blacks doctor Dr Deb Robinson, and Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington.
Yes there are rugby names involved, but there needed to be, in digging around the background, principles and priorities of the sport. The panel required some balance to avoid the feel of a witch-hunt.
But you didn't need to be a rocket scientist to realise the basis of most of the problems in a sport supposedly trying to find a new universe.
Alcohol abuse is an ever-present danger, attitudes to women need to change, and basically, as is often the case when large numbers are involved, a few bad apples tend to spoil the annual harvest.
There are a lot of words to digest in this weighty document and we heard a lot of talk in Thursday's presentation.
Now is the time for a lot of action.
But just like the report itself, this won't happen overnight.
The tone of the document could, indeed, require a generational adjustment. But the seeds of sense in the report's pages need to be planted immediately and nurtured carefully.
They have the ability to see New Zealand's treasured game prosper.
But for all the honest intent involved in this process, don't expect rugby to ever be totally squeaky clean.
The game is, after all, a reflection of our society and will attract some bad individuals as well as the good people that dominate it.
And sadly, just like society, it is often the bad folk who grab the attention.