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Tuifa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at the Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame induction celebration.

Photo/ PMN/ Susana Guttenbeil


Sir Bryan on Pacific rugby’s progress: It’s slow but we’ve come a long way

NZR's lack of Pacific representation at a board level has many worried, but Tuifa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams says he's cautiously optimistic things will change soon.

Pacific Mornings
29 March 2024, 3:23pm
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The first All Black of Samoan descent agrees there's not enough Pacific representation at the top of New Zealand Rugby (NZR), but he wants to reassure people that progress is being made.

Tuifa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams appeared on 531pi’s Pacific Mornings, giving his thoughts on the launch of the Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame, as well as providing his take on Pakilau Manase Lua’s resignation from NZR’s Pasifika Advisory Group.

Earlier this month, Lua announced he was stepping down due to concerns that Pacific communities weren't being given a meaningful say in how the game is being shaped.

“All we asked for was a seat at the NZR board,” Lua told PMN following his resignation.

“But they keep treating us like mindless monkeys. I have nothing but love for the PAG (Pasifika Advisory Group), but I don’t think it’s fair I sit there and feel helpless.”

Watch 531pi’s Pacific Mornings full interview with Tuifa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams:


Lua’s decision to leave the PAG, comes amid wider turmoil within rugby circles.

NZR released a proposal last year to change the game's leadership structure, but the major sticking point is around how board spots are distributed.

The proposed structure would see the board made up of independent directors with no links to the provincial unions or NZR's advisory groups, like the PAG.

Tuifa'asisina says while he tends to be a “glass half full sort of person”, he does believe Pacific people are being valued beyond the playing field.

“There's been a big review which is obviously looking at the representation and to make sure that [the board] is representative of the stakeholders.

“[And] having a voice at the main table I think is pretty important.

“[But] we used to worry about the fact that there weren't enough Pasifika coaches, but if you have a look nowadays, right through to the Super teams, you'll find they're sprinkled quite liberally through the coaching ranks.

"And it'll happen at the board table too, I've got no doubt about it. It happened in Parliament. We used to wonder when we'd get our first Parliamentarian and now there's many. That's just the evolution of life in New Zealand.”

Tuifa'asisina, who served as New Zealand Rugby Union president from 2011 to 2013, says that both him and Savae Sir Michael Jones have been on the NZRU board and he believes it won’t be long before we see others given similar opportunities.

“It is evolving. It is slow. But it's happening, because for a long time it wasn't happening.”