While couch potatoes and armchair critics endlessly debate
the reasons why the All Blacks lost to England, the outcome
of the curtain-closer between the Black Ferns and the England
women's team hardly caused a ripple.
In case you missed it, the Black Ferns were beaten 32-23,
capping off a terrible day for New Zealand's two premier
What is more concerning is that the Black Ferns lost all
three tests against England on this tour, on top of the two
losses and one draw against England they managed in 2011.
Never before has the team been on such a losing streak.
Some are suggesting the Black Ferns' losses are due to not
enough international rugby exposure, a loss of players to the
sevens team and a lack of investment from the NZRU in the
There is a real chance the Black Ferns will be overshadowed
by the better performing New Zealand women's sevens team,
which beat Australia, England and then South Africa to win
the first official IRB women's sevens series.
How do the Black Ferns change their fortunes?
What investment is necessary from the NZRU, from provincial
unions, from players, and from the coaching and management
staff of the national women's 15-a-side team to prevent
another whitewash on home soil in 2013?
Is the unbeaten record since the first IRB-sanctioned Women's
Rugby World Cup in jeopardy in 2014?
What is the solution? Throw more money and resources at
women's rugby? More international games? Better domestic
competitions and infrastructure? A female board member on the
When asked by the Human Rights Commission advocating for a
female director on the NZRU what proportion of NZRU funding
goes towards women's rugby, the NZRU responded that
investment in women's rugby was $2.6 million in both 2010 and
This reflected 3% of total NZRU investment in the game at a
time when the number of females registered to play rugby at
all levels and ages was 10%.
It would be interesting to see how this investment is broken
down even further with regards to community v elite rugby,
and sevens v 15s, but more money won't necessarily produce
A closer look at the playing numbers reveals that fewer than
1000 women aged 21 years and older play rugby.
How can we increase the player pool from which to select the
The NZRU has a strategic plan for women's rugby, and
appointed a women's rugby development officer to strengthen
grass-roots rugby infrastructure, but that is a small drop in
the ocean of issues that surround women's rugby.
One thing I'm adamant we don't need is more internationals.
They drain resources and don't necessarily guarantee the
development of a better product.
Three tests a year is more than adequate, and we've only ever
had five tests in one year in the past. Our most competitive
games are against each other here on home turf.
We need better coaching at club and provincial level, higher
retention from schoolgirls' to club rugby, more teams and
competitive games at the NPC level, more collaboration
between sevens and 15s programmes, a greater pool of players
being monitored and developed, and a return to the
old-fashioned passion that volunteers, coaches and players
used to have for women's rugby.
The 15-a-side game needs to up the ante if it is going to
keep athletic and talented players from switching to the
sevens game in droves, especially after the success of the
sevens team in Dubai and the inability of the Black Ferns to
squash the English roses on three occasions.
The national coaches also need to broaden their vision with
regards to player development and accept that many players
will choose the sevens game over the 15s game if they get the
Who wouldn't want to go to the Olympics?
They need to start developing a greater pool of players,
especially fast, fit and fabulous backs, and then New Zealand
will improve its chances of winning not only the Rugby World
Cup again in 2014 but also gold in 2016.