Black Fern stars could score $10k in back pay

The Black Ferns celebrate with the trophy after their World Cup final win over England. Photo Getty
The Black Ferns celebrate with the trophy after their World Cup final win over England. Photo Getty

The world champion Black Ferns are set to get back pay for their successful 2017 season as part of a landmark deal with NZ Rugby.

A one-off payment of around $10,000 each will be negotiated as part of the new agreement for elite women's seven's players, and as a step toward pay equality.

The agreement, expected to be signed off by next month, will ensure contracted players be placed on modest retainers thought to range from $15,000 to $30,000.

The Black Ferns stunning 2017 season was said to have kicked off the conversation about the status and investment in the women's programme.

Just last week, World Rugby Player of the Year Portia Woodman criticised NZ Rugby's decision to disregard a women's tournament in the Hamilton Sevens saying "it would have been a step toward equality and setting the women's game on the same standard as the men's."

The Black Ferns landmark season proved a handy bargaining tool for the NZ Rugby Player Association as it entered contract negotiations with NZ Rugby late last year.

Both the association and the national body declined discussion while negotiations were ongoing, but the Sunday Star Times reported that the Black Ferns would indeed be rewarded for their efforts from last season.

This would mean that even retired Black Fern stars such as captain Fiao'o Fa'amausili and Carla Hohepa could still benefit from the new deal.

The deal is expected to be just one of several breakthroughs for the country's elite female players in 2018.

Other key details will revolve around the establishment of regular international fixtures for the Black Ferns, and a set calendar for training and development camps to allow players to better plan their time and generate greater certainty.

Players Association chief executive, Rob Nichol, said he was unable to put a timeframe on signing the agreement, while a NZ Rugby spokesperson said there was no update on the negotiations.

But with a new programme to be established for the Black Ferns this year, Rugby bosses would be conscious of the need to finalise the agreement soon in order to take advantage of the momentum of the women's game.

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