NZF chair­man steps aside af­ter re­view

Crit­i­cisms of Shaw’s role made it im­pos­si­ble to stay

The Northern Advocate - - Sport - Michael Burgess

New Zealand Foot­ball chair­man Deryck Shaw has re­signed. It’s the lat­est twist in the on­go­ing fall­out from the NZF re­view, which was re­leased last Wed­nes­day.

The re­view con­tained both ex­plicit and im­plicit crit­i­cism of the board.

Shaw in­formed var­i­ous stake­hold­ers yes­ter­day of his de­ci­si­son to step down.

Phil Barry will be the in­terim chair­man for at least the rest of this year.

Shaw has been un­der se­vere pres­sure for the last few months, since the Foot­ball Ferns/An­dreas Heraf scan­dal first came to light in June.

That pres­sure only in­creased with the var­i­ous rev­e­la­tions and al­le­ga­tions around former CEO Andy Martin, even though much of that couldn’t be de­tailed in Phillipa Muir’s re­view, be­cause the NZF board had signed a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment with Martin as part of the terms of his de­par­ture.

The rev­e­la­tion in the Her­ald in Au­gust that both Martin and Heraf had been paid sig­nif­i­cant set­tle­ments also an­gered many foot­ball stake­hold­ers.

Last week Shaw main­tained he wanted to re­main at the helm of the board, to be part of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the changes rec­om­mended by the re­view.

But it’s be­lieved the board has been split, with some feel­ing that Shaw’s po­si­tion was un­ten­able.

A fur­ther layer was added on Wed­nes­day, when the Her­ald re­vealed that board mem­ber Jon Or­mond had re­signed.

In a state­ment sent to the board, Or­mond said that the de­tails in the con­fi­den­tial el­e­ment of the re­view meant that on­go­ing ten­ure on the board came down to a con­science vote.

“As is now a mat­ter of pub­lic record, the re­cent NZF re­view also com­prised a con­fi­den­tial brief­ing to the board about mat­ters which fell within the purview of the re­view but which can­not be pub­lished by NZF or the re­viewer due to le­gal con­straints, in­clud­ing obli­ga­tions of con­fi­den­tial­ity,” said Or­mond

“I formed the view that when read to­gether with the pub­lished por­tion, that the po­si­tion of the chair, and po­ten­tially the board it­self was un­ten­able. The col­lec­tive duty of a board has essen­tially made this a con­science vote. I re­spect those board mem­bers who pre­fer to act from the in­side to ef­fect change.”

Some other board mem­bers are said to be cur­rently con­sid­er­ing their po­si­tions.

Shaw has been the pres­i­dent of NZF since 2015, and de­serves credit for some of his achieve­ments, es­pe­cially in the way he helped to mend the near­bro­ken re­la­tion­ship with OFC.

But ul­ti­mately his in­abil­ity to man­age and over­see Martin, in what Muir re­ferred to as a “hand­soff ap­proach” proved to be the piv­otal fac­tor. Lima Sopoaga ad­mits he went to school to play rugby and eat his lunch. He saw the sport as his ticket to po­ten­tially mak­ing a bet­ter life.

So when the op­por­tu­nity to ac­cept a lu­cra­tive of­fer to con­tinue his ca­reer in Eng­land arose, he made the de­ci­sion to do what was best for his fam­ily — leav­ing the All Blacks dream be­hind.

Speak­ing to The Times, Sopoaga said the con­tract could change not just his own life, but a few lives.

“To come over here, to up­root my part­ner [Miriam] and daugh­ter [Milla, aged one] was a very big de­ci­sion,” he said. “But in the long run, it will be the right one.

“Guys in New Zealand who are sec­ond or third string, we’re not get­ting paid the same as the Beau­den Bar­retts. I fell into that cat­e­gory, I’ve no qualms about it, that’s the way it goes.

“Now, if I’m smart and make the right choices, if I’m not buy­ing stupid cars and stuff like that, this money will be put to good use. Who wouldn’t want that for their fam­ily?

“Things were tight at home and I can re­mem­ber times when Mum and Dad strug­gled. But we got through, our house was filled with love.

“I’m not just play­ing for my­self over here, it’s about mak­ing a bet­ter life for my fam­ily, mak­ing Mum and Dad’s life a bit eas­ier, broth­ers and sis­ters, nieces and neph­ews.”

Sopoaga left New Zealand at the end of this year’s Su­per Rugby sea­son with 16 test caps for the All Blacks and 88 matches for the High­landers to take up a 21⁄ year deal with Wasps, re­port­edly worth £1.5m (NZ$3,065,000).

The 27-year-old said now that he was in­el­i­gi­ble to rep­re­sent the All Blacks, he was en­joy­ing watch­ing them play from the per­spec­tive of a fan. How­ever, he was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties he had to live out his dream and play in the black jer­sey de­spite for­feit­ing his claim by mov­ing abroad.

“If some­one had said to me when I was eight years old that I was go­ing to play 16 times for the All Blacks, start­ing twice, that would have been enough for me. I got to do what many peo­ple walk­ing this Earth aren’t able to do, that’s to achieve their dreams.”

Sopoaga has found plenty to en­joy al­ready in a short time in Eng­land, giv­ing the ex­am­ple of the price of av­o­ca­dos as a big tick in the pros col­umn.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it, it’s about 50p (NZ$1) for an avo­cado, that would cost six times as much back home.

“We want to make the most of our op­por­tu­nity here, to ex­pe­ri­ence a new cul­ture in Eng­land, to learn a new lan­guage, to get to know new peo­ple.

“I’ve been to New­cas­tle re­cently,” he ex­plained.

“I couldn’t un­der­stand a word any­one said. I tried to or­der some food and it wasn’t re­ally hap­pen­ing. I got in an Uber, I couldn’t un­der­stand the driver and we both just ended up laugh­ing. I’m sure they couldn’t un­der­stand me ei­ther. I thought I’d come to live in an English­s­peak­ing coun­try.”

PHOTO / PHOTOSPORT

NZF chair­man Deryck Shaw has re­signed in the wake of the Muir re­port into the cul­ture of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Lima Sopoaga

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