New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson is facing calls to resign from one of his predecessors as the All Blacks jetted off to South Africa for the start of the Rugby Championship campaign.
Former All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen on Thursday took aim at the NZ Rugby board for “not doing their job” and failing to publicly back under-pressure coach Ian Foster.
On Friday, former NZR boss David Moffett chimed in on the criticism, but took it a step further in calling for Robinson to resign.
Robinson replaced Steve Tew in 2019 and among his first acts in his role was to appoint Foster as Hansen’s successor, before pushing for a purely Australasian Super Rugby, without the South African teams.
Moffett, who served as NZR CEO from 1996 to 2000, was asked during a radio interview whether Robinson was still the right man for the job.
“No, I don’t think so,” he told Today FM. “That’s where I would disagree with Steve [Hansen]. Steve said that he thinks [Robinson] will make a good CEO one day.
“Well, the chief executive of New Zealand Rugby is right up there in terms of publicity and persona as the prime minister. I found in my day I used to do more media than the prime minister on some days.
“We don’t need a CEO to learn how to be a CEO at New Zealand Rugby. We need somebody who knows what they’re doing, and if they make mistakes, like we all do, they can just own it.
“Don’t hide, don’t blame the board if they make decisions, it’s him, he’s the chief executive, the buck stops with him. The board sets strategy and policy, that’s it, as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the time the chief executive is running the place.
“I feel for these guys, because I’ve been there. But I never ducked the media. I always fronted, always took the flak, never made excuses. And that’s what we need to see in our chief executive. Robinson needs to get back here and he needs to front the media and he needs to tell them what’s gone wrong, what he’s doing about it and be open, instead of hiding away up there in Birmingham [Commonwealth Games]. We don’t want to see that in our chief executive.”
Moffett was then asked whether Robinson should resign, in the wake of the All Blacks’ historic series defeat to Ireland. “Yes, I think he should,” he said.
“Because this is just the tip of the iceberg. Any rugby CEO who does not understand that rugby is too much of a business to be a sport and too much of a sport to be a business – i.e. you’ve got to get that balance right – is always going to struggle.”
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