Stripper scandal prompts rugby chiefs to team up with sexual violence activist

New Zealand Rugby is to work with an anti-sexual violence campaigner after facing a backlash over its handling of allegations that leading players abused a stripper. NZR chief executive Steve Tew said the Waikato Chiefs case had shown his organisation “clearly could do better” regarding attitudes to women and changing rugby’s macho culture. He said the organisation would work with Louise Nicholas, a prominent women’s advocate and one of its strongest critics over the stripper scandal, on issues such as player education. “We’re already doing a lot of good work in this area, but clearly we need to do more,” he added.

Recent events show that attitudes among some of our people towards women leaves a lot to be desired. These views let rugby down

NZR chief executive Steve Tew

The scandal erupted last month when a stripper known as Scarlette said she was abused at a Chiefs end-of-season party held in a rural North Island pub. She alleged players crowded around her, touched her inappropriately and poured alcohol over her. An internal NZR inquiry cleared the players of sexual abuse but critics labelled it a cover-up. At the time, Ms Nicholas said it was a case of rugby bosses “protecting their own”. Leading rights groups also slammed NZR in an open letter released on Thursday. “Right now, thousands of New Zealanders are questioning the culture of our country’s favourite sport and those in charge of it,” it read.

These guys call themselves the Chiefs … where is the chief? A chief stands up for someone in a weak position. A chief is wise. A chief stands up for someone who is going through injustice

Former Samoan rugby international Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu