February 28 - 2017 Buller first union to appoint woman to Chair role

The Buller RFU became the first New Zealand provincial Rugby Union with a female Chair Person when appointing Westport lawyer Jane Duncan to the role.

Thirty-three-year-old Westport lawyer Jane Duncan has become the first ever female chairperson of a Provincial Union when she was appointed to lead the Board of the Buller Rugby Union at their recent board meeting.

Duncan said she was excited by the challenge of leading the governance of Buller Rugby.

“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.

“Congratulations to the Buller Rugby Union on their historic appointment and congratulations to Jane on her new role. 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, 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. 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,” said Duncan.

“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 12’s and 14’s 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.”


Jane Duncan