1 Mar 2017

First female provincial rugby chairperson appointed

10:11 am on 1 March 2017

Westport lawyer Jane Duncan has been appointed to lead the Buller Rugby Union, becoming the the first woman chairperson of a provincial union.

New Buller Rugby chairperson, Jane Duncan.

New Buller Rugby chairperson, Jane Duncan. Photo: Supplied

Duncan, an independent director of the Buller union, said she was excited by the new challenge.

"It is a privilege to be the first ever female chair of a provincial union. I'm excited by the role and look forward to working with my fellow board members tackling the opportunities and challenges ahead for Buller Rugby.

"For me this is not so much about gender, but about skill. My fellow board members felt I have the necessary skills and that I am the right person for the job. But it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that women have the right skill sets for these roles, so I am looking forward to seeing more women joining me in leadership positions in rugby.

"Females are playing a bigger part in rugby with strong growth in the number of women playing the game, the success of the Black Ferns Sevens team in winning silver at the Rio Olympics and Dr Farah Palmer's appointment last year to the New Zealand Rugby board. It's natural that there are more women in senior administrative roles in the game too."

New Zealand Rugby Board Chairman Brent Impey congratulated Mrs Duncan on her appointment.

"I look forward to working with her, along with the other chairs of provincial unions.

"It is exciting to see new people with a range of backgrounds and skills getting involved in the highest levels of rugby administration. I am confident the appointment will bring a fresh perspective to the board and her leadership of it that I am sure will be of great assistance to Buller."

Duncan moved to Westport in 2010 for work, taking up a position at Stevens Orchard Lawyers where she has been a director since 2012. She was appointed as an independent director to the Buller Rugby Union in February 2015.

"The Buller Rugby Union faces challenging times," she said. "We are one of the smallest unions in the country and the closure of the Holcim Cement Works and the major downsizing of the Stockton Mine has brought about a massive reduction of jobs and as a result player numbers have dwindled.

"It's not only player numbers that are suffering it's the lack of people with the ability to coach, referee and provide volunteer support. Buller is fortunate that its community spirit is such that those currently involved have the dedication and commitment to keep the wheels turning which makes our union survive.

"Despite these testing times Buller have performed well above expectations, having been finalists of the Heartland Rugby competition five times in the last seven years including making two finals for the prestigious Meads Cup and the Under 12s and 14s took home the Seddon Shield trophies in their respective tournaments.

"Despite the uncertainty in the region we will do our very best to continue to achieve great success on the field and rebuild our rugby union off it. We are soon to celebrate our 125th anniversary and I'm sure that with the right strategy we will be around in another 125 years."