Super Rugby takes women’s football a step forward
The postponement of this year’s Rugby World Cup had a silver lining for some black ferns.
Instead of international competition, they will make history on the domestic stage when the first Women’s Super Rugby match is played between the Blues and Chiefs on Saturday at Eden Park.
New Zealand Women’s Rugby Development Manager Cate Sexton has said that a Women’s Super Rugby match would not have taken place this year if the World Cup were to go ahead, so they are seizing the unexpected opportunity.
“It’s a big step forward, it’s something we’ve been keen to do for some time. I think it will create not only more opportunities for the players but also for the coaching staff,” said said Sexton.
“So I’m very happy that we’re going with this unique game this year and we can’t wait to see what we can put into play early next year.”
Chiefs assistant coach and former England international La Toya Mason was among those who hoped Saturday’s game wasn’t unique.
“Ideally from there all the other franchises are engaged and there’s a full-time Women’s Super Rugby program,” Mason said.
“It’s just another route to the Black Ferns, but also to show the young girls who pass there that there is a great route and that involves Super Rugby.”
Suggestions that a four-team semi-professional Women’s Super Rugby competition could start as early as February have been greeted with cautious optimism by Blues assistant coach and former Black Fern, Anna Richards.
Richards was realistic about what would be needed to move women’s football forward.
She said a Super Rugby competition would require investment and that the proposed agreement between Silver Lake and New Zealand Rugby could be one way to achieve this.
“Whether or not there is the money always helps the base, the money helps, the money greases the wheels, so however they get the money, it would be great to move women’s rugby forward. . “
The Blues and Chiefs have both named matchday squads stacked with the Black Ferns, but they’re also players who have daytime jobs and play club rugby on weekends.
Mason said that despite the limited time spent together, the Chiefs have a skillful back line the Blues should watch out for.
“It was really unique actually, obviously all the girls coming from Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Counties, Waikato, we had to bond pretty quickly but a lot of girls know each other through Black Ferns, Barbarians so it’s fairer. a group of friends who come together to play ball. “
The Blues mixed an international front row with teenage playmakers in the back row and captain Eloise Blackwell said the team was a good representation of what local women can do.
“We’re lucky enough in the Blues squad that a lot of the girls are from the Auckland area and obviously that’s not a disrespect to girls from other areas, we just have a lot of talent in our area. but we’re lucky enough that the girls who were thrown into the mix that we know and that they fitted in really well. “
Anna Richards said the landmark game caught the attention of those still in the game as well as former players.
“There is a lot of talk abroad, like a lot of people I have played against, they all want to watch the game, but you have to live in New Zealand to see the cream, people are not very happy abroad but in the old country Black ferns are delighted. “
The women also received support from their respective Men’s Super Rugby teams with Chiefs and All Blacks captain Sam Cane handing out the Chiefs jerseys last week.
Blues substitute captain Tom Robinson is also positive about the change around their training center.
“We greeted them at our seat, well that’s also their seat now, talking to them and how excited they were, that was pretty cool. It’s a big family now.