A women’s super rugby competition is the next step in a bid to make the women’s game fully professional according to New Zealand Rugby chair Brent Impey
Twenty eight women players were awarded semi professional contracts yesterday – the first time members of the Black Ferns fifteen a side squad have been contracted by New Zealand rugby worth between forty and forty-five thousand dollars.
But the women’s national side has not only won the remuneration battle with discussions are already under way to ensure equality for both men’s and women’s domestic competitions.
“The next thing we’re working on is a Super Rugby type competition and we’ll make decisions on it over the next couple of months to launch next year.” said New Zealand Rugby chair Brent Impey.
“There’s quite a gap between the Farah Palmer cup (the domestic competition) and the Black Ferns.”
The hope is that the men’s game is mirrored in the women’s to further nuture the Black Ferns.
“With the explosion in the number of young women and girls who are playing the game they need a pathway through.” says Impey.
“Whether it’s their club through to their province through to a Super club, through to the Black Ferns it’s what we are trying to achieve so it’s a similar pathway.”
With limited games on offer for the Black Ferns, returning veteran Fiao’o Fa’amausili believes the competition will only boost the volume of international tests
“I know that money is always the case in some areas with women’s rugby but I believe in people – people make things work.” says Fa’amausili
“if we get that rolling, people talking it will come. I’m hoping Pacific countries will get involved, Australia is just down the road and England.”
The women’s sevens side have been on contracts for the past few years but maintaining successful teams in both the sevens and the fifteen a-side formats could pose a problem with high-profile players earning more money in the Sevens format.
But Brent Impey is confident both versions can co-exist.
“We want the Black Ferns sevens winning the Commonwealth Games, winning the World Series. We want the Black Ferns winning internationals and successive world cups.”
“You do it in parallel you don’t prioritise one against the other.”
But unlike the Sevens where there’s world series the Black Ferns 15’s only have three tests this year, two against Australia in August and against the United States in November.
So while the move to semi professsionalism is welcomed, the other thing the Black Ferns desperately want is games.