Respect and Responsibility

The programme is designed to uplift and inspire rugby communities by providing the skills and knowledge to foster healthy relationships both on and more importantly off the field. The focus is on consent, sexual assault and family violence prevention, as well as by-stander interventions. Respect and Responsibility is an organisation wide programme and is for everyone not just players. Respect and Responsibility will be rolled at the professional levels followed by communities and schools over the next two years.


  • While people who play sports are no more likely to use violence than anyone else, rugby is community like any other and these issues effect all communities.
  • Research shows that people impacted by violence go to their communities for help long before they try the police or agencies.
  • When people in our community need this help we want to know what to do.
  • Family and sexual violence is preventable and everyone has a role to play.
  • Rugby clubs are places of positive change for communities and the families within them.
  • While this work can be challenging it is also fun and meaningful. Clubs that learn how to address these issues create deeper relationships with their communities and in turn have better retention and longevity of members.


  • We are all proactive about prevention, including having a shared understanding, policies, education and resources available to help create a culture in every club that promotes mana enhancing and respectful relationships between people.
  • We can recognise the signs of family or sexual violence.
  • We can respond in a range of ways that ensures the person at risk and the person using harmful behaviour knows where to go for support and minimises the risks of harm.
  • If we need help either for our own behaviour or because we are the victims of someone else’s we know what agencies are in our area.


That is still being worked out, but most likely it will look a bit different in different areas, but it will include a range of the following:

  • Education and presentations from the R&R team on different topics for wider club and families.
  • Online modules for different groups
  • Resources for clubs to use and display (posters, policies)
  • Relationships with local agencies
  • Using trained community champions as points of contact for the community and to lead conversations about the R&R project. 
  • Player specific programmes for different age groups.


From our talks with people on the ground the following things have come up:

“Will this turn me into a social worker?”

No! But you may have some interesting and meaningful conversations along the way. In short we want people to be able to ask for and offer help where it is needed but part of the programme will be making sure our clubs know who in their area they can refer to, we don’t want you to be a social worker, but we do want you to know how to find one so they can help!

“I have personal experience of violence and I’m not sure how confident I feel about having these conversations”

We know that violence has effected many New Zealanders and don’t want to push people into roles they aren’t comfortable with. That is why this is a club wide project, maybe you are not the person to lead these conversations, but instead you need to know who is the ‘go to’ person is in your club.

“I would be concerned about my own safety if I intervened where there was suspected violence”

Intervention is a spectrum from ignoring harmful behaviour to stepping into the thick of a risky situation. No one is expected to jeopardise their own safety, but ignoring risk is also not the answer. 
This programme will teach a range of ways to respond that are non-confrontational, for example checking in with the person you are worried about or passing on your concerns to someone in a better position to act.

“What can you do if people don’t want help?”

Living violence free is a journey and people reach that in their own time. However, a key turning point for both victims and those using violence is how people around them respond to disrespectful or harmful behaviour. 

At a club level we can be clear about the values we hold, what our obligations are, (for example if a child is at risk) and make sure information about local services and policies are visible. As friends, team mates and colleagues we can offer help, we can share our concerns about what we are seeing and we can keep offering to be an ear when they are ready. It can be hard to know someone is being treated or behaving badly and doesn’t want help but it is important to remember none of us are responsible for providing the whole solution, we just have to be proactive about what we can do. 

NZR has also created a dedicated position to help support this work so please be in touch with Eleanor on 027 542 9254 or if you need advice or resources around this topic while we are developing this programme.