10 Jul 2010

Andy Haden steps down as Rugby World Cup ambassador

11:58 pm on 10 July 2010

Rugby World Cup ambassador Andy Haden has resigned over comments he made suggesting women sometimes wrongly accuse sportsmen of rape.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully made the announcement late on Saturday afternoon.

Mr McCully had already indicated Mr Haden's role as ambassador was untenable after his public remarks about sex offence allegations against sportsmen.

He says he accepted the resignation "with sadness" after receiving an email from the former All Black relinquishing his position, before a meeting planned for the pair to discuss the matter.

Mr McCully says Mr Haden has offered his services to help with preparations for next year's events.

Speaking on Sky TV's Deaker on Sport on Wednesday, Mr Haden said women who targeted rugby players and sportsmen did so "at their peril".

Mr Haden said such things sometimes had two sides, and if the "cheque bounces sometimes, they only realise [then] that they've been raped".

He had been allowed to keep his position as ambassador after he apologised for an earlier incident in which he talked about race-based team selection.

Mr McCully has said it is not possible to combine the roles of television rugby "shock-jock" and 2011 ambassador. He had been expected to raise the matter with Mr Haden on Friday.

Labour wanted Haden sacked

Earlier, Labour's Rugby World Cup spokesperson, Trevor Mallard, says Mr Haden has gone too far and must be removed. He says that "if Andy doesn't resign - and I would expect that he would - he has to be sacked."

A member of the Roundtable on Violence Against Women, Sandra Dickson, says it's embarrassing that New Zealand has a Rugby World Cup ambassador who makes sexist and racist comments.

"I think he's talking about a world where, basically, if women are drinking they're fair game," Ms Dickson says, "and I think that it's a pretty sad indictment where we can be excusing some of the activities that we know have happened to women at the hands of sportsmen."

Previous calls for sacking rejected

In May, Mr Haden apologised for using the word "darkies" when alleging that selection for the Crusaders' Super 14 team was race-based.

Despite calls for him to be sacked as ambassador, Mr McCully let him keep the position, saying he was satisfied with Mr Haden's apology.

Mr Mallard says Mr McCully "wimped out" after being told by Mr Key to sack Mr Haden.