New Zealand Rugby makes public apology to top woman player

·1 min read

New Zealand Rugby publicly apologised on Tuesday to Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, whose criticism of the environment in the women's national team led to a scathing review and overhaul of its coaching staff.

The experienced hooker had accused management of overseeing a culture that failed to support player wellbeing on their unsuccessful tour of Europe last year, during which she said she suffered a mental breakdown.

The 30-year-old's social media post in December highlighting her treatment -- including accusations that coach Glenn Moore made disparaging remarks to her -- sparked an independent review.

The review backed up Ngata-Aerengamate's claims and found staff made culturally insensitive comments to the country's top players and indulged in favouritism and body-shaming.

Moore stood down in April, within a week of the review's release, and was replaced by former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith, six months out from the World Cup being staged in New Zealand.

NZR had previously accepted the review's findings and apologised privately to Ngata-Aerengamate.

But in a statement on Tuesday it said that it was important to say sorry again, publicly, coinciding with the resolution of mediation between the player, NZR and Moore.

"NZR now wishes to repeat that apology... and reiterates its commitment to ensuring Te Kura receives the appropriate mental wellbeing and training support required to help her continued recovery."

Ngata-Aerengamate accepted the apology via a social media post, saying the fallout from the tour had been "emotional" but the Black Ferns and women's rugby would benefit from the action taken.

"NZR thank you for engaging and acting; together we got there," she said.

"I'm on the mend, enjoying my footy again with a free spirit."