NRL insists on women in club boardrooms

The NRL will penalise clubs that don’t appoint at least one woman director to boards as part of a plan to encourage women into management positions in rugby league.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith announced the plan to introduce a quota at a ‘‘Women in League’’ lunch at the Museum of Contemporary Art at The Rocks on Wednesday.

Only a handful of clubs including – Gold Coast, North Queensland, Canterbury, Wests Tigers, Manly, Brisbane and South Sydney – have a woman on the board or as chief executive.

Smith had outlined several standards the clubs will need to follow to ensure their grants, including penalties for failing to comply and incentives if certain targets are reached.

‘‘As part of the funding model we launched four principles,’’ Smith said.

‘‘One of the principles was the funding model becomes a participation payment and in order to participate, there are conditions. Against those conditions there will be a set of minimum standards  ... we will work with clubs to set a level of minimum standards, which will include some kind of focus on the structure of the board – both the competence and the gender. What we also said was  ... there is potential at-risk money. If they don’t meet the standards that are set  ... there are potential penalties.’’

Smith said ‘‘competency and gender’’ would be crucial to club boardrooms.

‘‘We increasingly want people to be part and parcel of the game,’’ he said. ‘‘I am always talking to people as I go talk to sponsors or government. You will see the centre in playing a role in making sure people are encouraged when we find them. I don’t think it’s controversial.’’

During her address at the function, Canterbury boss Raelene Castle was asked how the role of women in rugby league would evolve.

‘‘The processes the NRL [is] putting in place around governance and having the expectation of a female representative on the board is a huge step forward,’’ she said. ‘‘That will be a significant gauge for all of rugby league as to how successful we are. That will only get better  ...  I don’t doubt there will be another female rugby league CEO. [It won’t] be as big a media deal as my appointment has been.’’

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