New Zealand Rugby League

Date: 26/5/14

New Zealand Rugby League has re-appointed sitting director John Bishop and introduced newcomer Tim Gibson to its board for the next four years.

The appointments panel has also nominated Debbie Sorenson as its preferred candidate for the available elected director position. This role, with a term of three years, will be subject to a vote at the NZRL annual meeting on June 25.

Bishop has served on the NZRL board since 2008, chairing the audit and risk committee, serving as League 4 Life trustee and helping the NZ/Australia joint venture win hosting rights for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

He is also chairman of the Rugby League International Federation audit committee and is director on five other organisations, chairing boards of Reclaim (formerly Paper Reclaim), Storelink Sales, Cleves Transport Group and Insurance Holdings (Fiji).

“It is fair to say that whilst we have made significant progress over the years from 2008 to 2013, there are now significant challenges facing both the NZRL and the international game,” says Bishop.

“I strongly feel that I can continue to make a difference at a time when we need to grow our resources towards another successful World Cup in 2017.”

Gibson has already played a part in the sport’s governance, as Wellington zone chairman, and brings unquestioned business credentials from roles as executive director of Tuia International, and previously, chief executive of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and group director of global strategy with the New Zealand Dairy Board.

“Looking ahead to the scorecard for 2017, there are a number of exciting challenges and opportunities for the NZRL,” he says. “Showcasing both our game and our community in the 2017 RLWC, and doing that within our means, will be perhaps the most significant.

“Through my commercial and government networks, internationally and domestically, as well as my direct involvement in leveraging NZ’s involvement in major sporting events, I can offer the NZRL valuable connections and experience.”

Sorenson comes from one of NZ rugby league’s most famous families – father Bill, uncle David, and cousins Dane and Kurt were all Kiwis internationals – and was New Zealand’s first female referee.

She is particularly passionate about the opportunities offered to the Pacific Island community through rugby league and has been a strong advocate for increasing the game’s profile through schools.

But Sorenson also offers considerable experience in the business and health sector, and currently holds three key leadership roles – Pasifika Futures Whanau Ora Commissioning agency chief executive, Pasifika Medical Association chief executive and Health Specialists managing director.

“I believe I have a strong set of competencies in strategic and business planning, financial management, monitoring and evaluation, and fundraising,” she says.
“These, combined with my knowledge and experience in working with Pacific communities and my networks, I believe, would add value to the New Zealand Rugby League board.”

The NZRL board consists of four appointed directors and three elected directors, while the appointments panel is made up of board chairman Scott Carter, Sir John Wells, John Page and Bruce Peden.

“The next four years are about commercial growth, strengthening partnerships with government and community agencies, and improving the capability of rugby league clubs and regions,” says Carter, who will stand down at the annual meeting.

“Tim and Debbie add considerably to the diversity and influence we need in these areas, while John fully deserves the opportunity to continue his outstanding work.”