WELLINGTON – New Zealand women's rugby head coach Glenn Moore resigned Saturday, five days after a withering review found coaches made culturally insensitive comments to the country's top players and indulged in favouritism and body-shaming.
Moore's immediate departure comes less than six months from the Women's World Cup, which will be hosted by New Zealand, the defending champions.
Despite steering the team to the 2017 title, Moore had been under intense pressure to quit following the independent review, which found that Black Ferns players had been badly served by both team management and New Zealand Rugby.
It was launched after experienced hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate shared a social media post in which she said she had suffered a mental breakdown because of critical comments made by Moore.
She alleged Moore had told her she did not deserve to be on the team and was "picked only to play the guitar".
Moore, 62, said in a statement that he had chosen to end his seven-year tenure following a wave of criticism at his retention.
"The decision to resign from a position I am passionate about six months before the 2022 Women's Rugby World Cup has been really tough for both me and my family," Moore said.
"I remain concerned that the prolonged Cultural and Environmental Review continues to be distracting at a time when all focus needs to be on maximising performance."
Moore said he took issue with Ngata-Aerengamate's allegations, describing them as "misleading".
"[The social media post] provided no context and unfairly and inaccurately represented me as a coach and a person," he said.
"My values and beliefs were called into question, and it was very disappointing not only to me but also to my family.
"I have refrained from making any public comment about that until now out of concern for Te Kura's wellbeing at the time she made her post and to allow the review process to be completed."
The review found other Black Ferns players, notably of Maori or Pasifika background, also complained of poor communication, favouritism, body-shaming and insufficient investment in understanding how to coach women.
NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said he accepted Moore's decision.
"We understand and respect Glenn's decision to step down and it is a mark of his character that he has chosen to put the team first at this difficult time."
When the review was made public on Monday, Robinson said the governing body needed "to do better" and apologised to the players.