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Equality for the Black Ferns

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 am, November 13th, 2022 - 42 comments
Categories: equality, inequality, sport, uncategorized, women's sport - Tags:

Aoteatoa is buzzing with pride and gratitude for the Black Ferns who last night in an epic final bet England and halted England’s 30 game winning streak.

If you missed the game here are the highlights.

The game was not without its controversies.  English winger was sent off in the 20th minute for a dangerous tackle resulting in a head clash with Kiwi winger Portia Woodman which left Portia dazed and having to be taken off the field.

The call was the right one but thanks to superior forward power England nearly pulled it off.  But the Black Ferns played smarter and used  their superior numbers to open England out wide.

The game was watched by a sellout crowd and it felt more like a test from 30 years ago.  Tickets were much cheaper and this was reflected by the more diverse crowd that attended.  It really looked like Tamaki Makaurau rather than Auckland Grammar Old Boys Supporters.

The issue that New Zealand Rugby will need to grapple with is should the Black Ferns and the All Blacks be treated equally and all I can say is why the hell not.

The majority of the Black Ferns’ squad are on retainers of between $35,000-$70,000 a year but this is a very recent development.  Some earn $130,000 a year which is the same as that paid to lower grade super rugby players.

By comparison top All Blacks are paid about a million dollars a year.

The argument for equality is compelling.  And at the same time NZRU need to think about ticket prices.  Last night’s final shows that you can pack Eden Park out and witness a great game at the same time.  Maybe the top salaries need to be reconsidered at the same time.

Well done Black Ferns.

And to Ruby Tui all that I can say is that you are a star.

42 comments on “Equality for the Black Ferns ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    Let's watch it again in French…

  2. laugh Let's do this!! Let's pay them equally with the men. That is the most entertaining full on running rugby which the crowd love so much they were there till the final speech presentation and singalong with Ruby. "Tutira Mai Nga Iwi" 45000 of them.

  3. observer 3

    1999: Hinewehi Mohi sings national anthem in Te Reo, at Rugby World Cup (men's). ABs win game, but many rugby fans (mostly male) unhappy. Ranting on talkback. All over the media.

    2022: Hinewehi Mohi repeats … Ferns win game, all rugby fans happy, nation happy. Singing along with Tui, with joy. All over the media.

    Nostalgia? No thanks. We're in a better place.

    • X Socialist 3.1

      No, we aren't in a better place. I have replied to you in Open Mike.

    • Incognito 3.2

      We’re in a better place.

      Maybe, and it depends on what you mean. I think that many people are hanging out for anything positive that makes them feel better, even for a brief moment. The shared joy of a WC victory creates a massive buzz but it is just that, no more, no less.

      • observer 3.2.1

        The context of my comment is pretty obvious. It's on the topic of the OP. I don't think I needed to add "but there is also climate change and Ukraine and other stuff".

        People are celebrating something which is not only a one-off sporting success, but a clear sign of progress, compared with older attitudes. It's not a brief moment, it's a difference in generations.

        • Incognito

          Maybe. If there’s a consistent trend, a pattern, then maybe, or maybe it is no more than wishful thinking and day-dreaming. A buzz does do that to people even they do really need it, we all do.

          Anyway, I don’t want to be a buzz-kill for those who are rightfully celebrating today. Personally, I’m not feeling or sensing the progress yet …

          • observer

            Consider the dominant image of NZ, seen through rugby. For so long it was male only, the ABs at the pinnacle with incredible sporting skills and plenty of success on the pitch, but also with a side order of "boorishness" in the culture (to put it politely. Less polite would be alcohol-fuelled aggression and domestic violence).

            The Black Ferns bring none of that. They are the opposite. They are inclusion and diversity and fun. (How many gay All Blacks have there been? Compare and contrast).

            And now they have moved from the outer margins to the centre, no longer patted on the head as funny fat girls, and because sport is (rightly or wrongly) always a large part of our media coverage, this is undoubtedly a positive thing.

            I have seen the effect on kids, especially girls, and before the BFs had even won it. And it's not a diversion, it's a reflection. Now 50% of our MPs are women. A generation ago it was 25-30%. Progress.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              Now 50% of our MPs are women. A generation ago it was 25-30%. Progress.

              yes Is it a concern that the Greens and Labour are doing the heavy lifting?

              • lprent

                Only to National, Act, and NZF if they actually want to get votes.

                But I guess that those parties are all just reflections of bygone eras based on who they select as electable candidates.

                At present I’m unconcerned. I may get concerned if any of those parties manage to leave the 20th century that they so dearly love.

            • Incognito

              Yes, that is a fair comment, thank you.

    • Binders full of Women 3.3

      1999 ABs lost game and many of the old guard actually though Hinewehi had somehow cursed them. The mighty French came back with 33 points in the 2nd half. One reason why this kiwi loves French Rugby (& Black Ferns).

      • observer 3.3.1

        You're mixing up the England group game (Hinewehi sang, ABs won) and the France semi (she also sang, in English, ABs lost).

        The French semi final win was indeed incredible to watch. One of the most extraordinary, crazy half hours of rugby, ever.

        (edited for anthem accuracy)

  4. SPC 4

    In sports such as tennis and golf, parity is based on professional tours and global television rights.

    The equivalent in team sport is probably football. England, USA, New Zealand and Spain now do this.

    It requires comparability – 4 yearly world cups and other international competition. Which is coming – there is an international competition for women starting next year – in advance of any equivalent in the mens game (in addition to the Six Nations for women and any alternative such as for (USA/Canada/Oz/New Zealand/Fiji/SA?)

    The AB's are contracted to also play Super Rugby and sometimes NPC, the Ferns would have their new Super comp and the FP Cup.

    The problem would be that the AB salaries are inflated to retain players domestically (to prevent drift to better pay in UK/Ireland/France/Japan).

    Another issue is that women's rugby is still in development – needs provincial U20 teams as a pathway post high school and an equivalent to the mens U20 Internationals (maybe at U23). And money is needed for this. And at the club level there needs to be more than just the one team – also a weight grade (the men have Under 85kg) and an age grade and maybe one for those who only want to play sevens.

    • Craig H 4.1

      It's always a difficult discussion about funding grass roots, development pathways and national teams. No doubt the will is there to fund everything, but the funds aren't so there will be difficult conversations about priorities. On the other hand, the potential of an influx of new players, especially girls and women, is there, so it would be awful governance to miss out on that with poor or no support for clubs and provincial unions.

      Incidentally, there is a Pacific Four Series competition of NZ, Australia, USA and Canada, plus the O'Reilly Cup for NZ vs Australia (Bledisloe Cup equivalent) and the Northern Tour last year, so those international competitions do exist to some extent, but agree with you that it's still a work-in-progress. 7s being an Olympic sport is massive for expansion opportunities as it adds funding and interest from countries that otherwise would not provide government funding.

  5. Cricklewood 5

    Selfish of me but really hope they don't go down the fully professional route.

    Watching them play for the fun of it, just sport for the fun of it, no media minders crafting cookie cutter media comment… You'd be scared that full professionalism would suck the joy right out of it.

    I do hope the NZRFU actually bother to properly support the team and the woman's game after this… would be really good to see some double headers.

    Also someone should ask Wayne Smith if he would like a knighthood.

    • Grey Area 5.1

      And if he's the man I think he us I hope he'd say no thanks. Unlike Hansen and Henry.

    • logie97 5.2

      If the women can manage a spirited performance on the money they are paid then it points to the obscenity that is the remuneration for their male counterparts and athletes in all sporting forms – the ultimate being the Saudi financed golfing circus.

      I watched the news 20 odd months ago and our emergency health workers were apparently the best in the world and we loved them. Times have moved on and they don't appear to have had improvements in their working conditions or salaries.

      Paying professional sportspeople (and entertainers) for just turning up is unbelievable in this troubled world. That said, congratulations to The New Zealand and English women rugby teams for turning on a spectacle and distracting many of us from the troubles of the world for at least 80 minutes.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    Keep filling stadiums and getting tv viewership and the money will follow, 10 years ago womans rugby was painful to watch the skill set is tip top now so I think it'll come,

    If ypu want a laugh though check out luxons fb post where he congratulates the ferns, a couple of wags(not this one) thank Grant Robinson for funding them.

  7. Jenny are we there yet 7

    Share the love

    @ 2:17 minutes;


    Sarah, a few people still question whether we should invest in women's sport. With a final of that quality you can't question that now.

    Red Roses Captain, Sarah Hunter: You can't. And I was just chatting to one of the Black Ferns member of staff. And she says the same thing.
    You can't expect nations now, not to go and invest in their teams when they put on a show case for woman's rugby in a final in front of 40,000 people, and you know, I am sure the viewing figures were up there like, you know it. It's come to the party….

    …..'We need to invest in our women's game and make it a fair playing field'

    @ 4:02 minutes

    T.V. 3

    Simon, you guys seemed to have the upper hand in the first half particularly. How would you describe the Black Ferns team you guys ran into in the second half?

    Red Roses Coach, Simon Middleton: To be honest they were the same in the first half. They were a huge handful they were a great side. They've got some fantastic players, they've got blistering pace.

    And they were difficult to contain when they had the ball….

    ….We had to car chase quite a bit….

    ….full credit to all the Black Ferns and all their staff, they are worthy world champions. But I am sat here and I could not be prouder with the players and their performance and the character they showed. And just the game as a whole, the whole spectacle.

    You know, the world cup has to take the game forward. And if that doesn't take the game forward then there is something wrong. And I'm pretty sure it will.


    P.S. I have hi-lighted the questions and replies relating to the issue of equity. (which is what this post is about). But watch the whole interview, it is worth a watch. A world class athlete and coach obviously hurting, gracious in defeat without fault.

    Media interest from the BBC, the Guardian, the Irish Examiner, the big major news outlets in this country, (Except the Herald), are a testament to the interest in Woman's sport.

    That the Black Ferns and women are paid less than their male counterparts is a scandal that needs to be rectified.
    The government need to step in.
    Ignore their stupid excuses and pathetic reasons, New Zealand Rugby need to brought kicking and screaming (figuratively) to the table and forced to sign. It will be a landmark decision for all women's sport here and everywhere.

    If that doesn’t happen. There is ‘something wrong’.

  8. Ad 8

    Hilarious to hear the chief of NZ Rugby on RNZ this morning have the answer "We're working on it ", when asked what win bonus the Black Ferns will receive.

    They hadn't prepared an answer.

    The UK team despite losing get $130k each.

    A whole tournament to prepare an answer.

    A good moment for Ministers Wood and Robertson to require an answer of the employer I''dve thought.

    • Sanctuary 8.1

      The NZRU under Robinson have proved to be miserably inept. Their marquee product this past weekend succeeded despite of the neglect of NZ rugby. No fan zones, not much effort in organising. But oh! Wasn't it refreshing to hear the Black Ferns leading the crowd in song, talk about "we did it together with our fans" and "our country"? Certainly makes a change from the All Blacks, who only moan about how they want more of our cash and how much we should all appreciate the stress they are under.

      And what morons agree to a match schedule that sees your two premier touring men's teams play their big games in the wee hours of Monday morning? The audience for the All Blacks live coverage would have been a fraction of what it would have been on a weekend. It smacks of an insufferably out of touch arrogant organisation that assumes it's fans (the ones who pay for Sky mainly to watch the All Blacks live remember) will watch at whatever shitty time they decide because you know, it's the All Blacks.

      Anyway, the NZRU will assume the whole thing was a one off flash in the pan, do nothing, wring their hands at the lack of progress in the womens game and go back to congratulating themselves on how excellent they are at running the game and how amazing they all, making sure all the right thinking lads can get a jobs and generally being complacent and useless.

      Meanwhile the All Black are coached by the third best coach in NZ and about the worst coached team of any of the top six or seven nations. They will get easily beaten the RWC quarter finals in a result that everyone already knew two years previous except those whose salaries depend on not knowing and the board, Foster and the Sky hosts will profess astonishment, puzzlement and lecture us on expectations in the professional era.

      • Ad 8.1.1

        Though pretty tone deaf of PM Ardern who has been totally propped by the women's vote ditching the game for another bullshit talkfest in Bali.

        That's a dumptruck of luvvie voter upside to forego.

        • observer

          And if she'd made a different choice there would be complaints that she'd selfishly gone for a photo op instead of going to a major summit (which wasn't in Bali, by the way) with world leaders.

          There are plenty of serious issues for any PM, but whether they miss a rugby game isn't one of them.

        • Mike the Lefty

          Her summit was in Cambodia, not Bali. You don't pay much attention to detail do you?

    • Craig H 8.2

      The current deal was agreed as part of collective negotiations between NZRU and the players' union, the Rugby Players Association (RPA). Going by this article, the Black Ferns get paid more than any other professional women's team even taking into account the other teams' potential bonuses. If they can find a way to fund bonuses, that would be fantastic, but it's not like the players had no say in the pay structure, nor without hindsight is it necessarily worse than a pay structure with a bonus. It would also be great if new sponsors came on board and that money was put towards increasing the players’ pay, grass roots and development pathways to the top.

  9. James Simpson 9

    It really comes down to us the fans. We can do 3 things:

    • Demand NZR to increase their pay;
    • Turn up to their games so that their is cash to pay them; and
    • Go any but some black ferns merch (It Adidas that in essence funds Ardie's 7 figure salary)
  10. Peter 10

    If the All Blacks played a Bledisloe Cup match against Australia at Eden Park with ticket prices at the usual rate of $80-$180 would the stadium be sold out?

    If the Black Ferns played a match against England at Eden Park with ticket prices the same $80-$180 rate would the stadium be sold out?

    If the All Blacks played against South Africa at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin would the stadium be sold out with tickets a similar $80-$180 would the stadium be sold out?

    If the Black Ferns played Australia at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin with tickets at the same price would the stadium be sold out?

    I'm pondering the calls for equity, the product being bought and demand. If Brodie Retallick is on $1 million a year does that mean the top Silver Ferns lock Chelsea Bremner should be paid the same?

    • Craig H 10.1

      In terms of the Equal Pay Act 1972, it would be quite hard for NZ Rugby to defend against a claim that women rugby players are doing the same job for less money. Having said that, obviously the women don't have the opportunity to play as much in a year as the men, so that's a legitimate reason for a disparity in that total match fees received in a year would necessarily be less.

      Something about the attendance at RWC games was that it was much more family-oriented than All Blacks games, so that suggests potentially a slightly different market for ticket sales and sponsors. Also a good opportunity for expanding women's rugby, both secondary school age and adults, which has a useful flow-on effect for rugby clubs (more members = more subscription income and sales, and hopefully more volunteers).

      • Peter 10.1.1

        The crowd at the Women's RWC was certainly much different than you'd see at a 'normal' men's international.

        I don't know what it says in the Equal Pay Act 1972. Does it say anything about Lorde and Bic Runga having to be paid the same amount because they do the same thing?

        • Craig H

          No, because they aren't employed so the legislation doesn't apply to their situation. There is also no apparent differentiation in pay rates based on sex.

      • SPC 10.1.2

        Some AB's are paid extra – their value to the team (the team makes more money if they are No 1) and in the market (as determined by professional club rugby in the wider world).

        If women received the same pay now, then there would be less revenue (based on television rights and gates and sponsorship) to subsidise the development of the women’s game.

        One naturally follows from the other.

  11. pat 11

    After an exceptional tournament for the Black Ferns we appear determined to now place the woman's game on the same downward trajectory that has afflicted the mens game since the advent of professionalism….c'est la vie.

    • logie97 11.1

      Agree 100 pcnt Pat – see my comment 5.2 above. And as an aside, many of our nation of sports followers appear to ignore the fact that "our girls" won against an opposition of 14 players for approaching two thirds of the game. It was however an entertaining spectacle for the full 80 minutes, with so much more of the ball in play as opposed to their male counterparts who spend an eternity setting their scrums and lineouts.

  12. gsays 12

    A great competition, fantastic skill sets and a thrilling final.

    Sir Steve Hansen, father of Whitney, one of the Black Fern's coaches, offers a couple of insights on The Podium. There is a link part way through this article.


    How there is an organic feel to women's rugby. They aren't tarred with expectation, the players can express themselves and be genuine. Partly because they haven't been scrutinised and punished for having their walls down.

    He doesn't like the rolling maul either. The fact there were 6 in the final says it is too easy.

  13. Jenny are we there yet 13

    Stop the discrimination against women everywhere

    If seems that I am not the only one who thinks the $10,000 bonus belatedly paid to the Black Ferns by New Zealand Rugby for winning the world cup, compared tot the bonuses paid to All Blacks was blatant discrimination.

    Stop paying lip service, New Zealand Rugby, and give the Black Ferns the bonus they deserve

    Honey Hireme-Smiler16:56, Nov 16 2022

    Honey Hireme-Smiler is a former Black Fern, Sky Sport commentator, and Stuff columnist for the Rugby World Cup


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