In news that continues the importance of the women’s rugby movement, the Black Ferns ‘past and present’ players are to all be officially Capped, in a series of ceremonies by New Zealand Rugby. This is to both celebrate the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup victory, but also timed for an reunion of the 1998 winning Black Ferns XV side.
The 20th anniversary will herald the first time that any New Zealand Black Ferns women’s player has been officially ‘capped’. Whereby a player on debut, or marking significant achievements, receives an honorary players cap. Something that the majority of men’s XVs players enjoy, the recognition is timely, and respectful.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) this week announced a project to officially cap all Black Ferns who have played in sanctioned Test matches, in a series of ceremonies and events which begin in June 2018.
Black Ferns past and present players to all be ‘capped’
The team who took home the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1998, will be among the first Black Ferns to receive their caps at a special reunion event. Scheduled for June 8, that teams 20th anniversary dinner will celebrate their victory in Amsterdam. That will be followed on by more ceremonies, to honour players who represented the black jersey, winning all but one of the Rugby World Cup events (see main picture; 2006).
NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in an media release, that the capping project was an important part of recognizing the achievements of the five-time World Champion Black Ferns.
“The planning that goes into official recognition of the Black Ferns has been in motion for some time now. Given this year marks the anniversary of our first Women’s Rugby World Cup win in 1998, it seemed fitting to bring the players together and cap that team at a reunion dinner.”
The reunion dinner will bring together 130 former Black Ferns stretching back to 1989 when the first official national women’s team played the visiting Pacific Coast Grizzlies, at Lancaster Park. It will include formations players, such as Dr Farah Palmer, Melodie Robinson and Anna Richards.
History of Black Ferns XV to be celebrated
Since then, 193 women have been selected as Black Ferns, with Canterbury’s Jacqui Apiata capped with number one and North Harbour’s Rebecca Wood the newest Black Fern from the 2017 squad.
Tew said the reunion dinner promises to be a great evening, with a number of overseas-based players attending the event. “Wearing the black jersey and representing your country is a special moment for any New Zealand athlete. This is a rare opportunity for former teammates to get together, reminisce, and celebrate their success.
“It’s going to be a very special night and is another element of creating an ongoing legacy for the team.”
About the capping project:
- Black Ferns who took the field in a sanctioned international Test match will receive a cap over the next three years.
- 161 women to be capped over the next three years.
- The caps are based on traditional rugby caps and feature the Black Ferns number, the silver fern and details of their Test debut.
- 46 Black Ferns will be capped at the reunion dinner on June 8.
- These include the 1998 Black Ferns, Black Ferns who have travelled from overseas to attend and the families of Black Ferns who have passed away.
- Players who represented the Black Ferns in matches in 1989 and 1990 and went on to play official Test matches are also set to be capped at the reunion.
- Further capping ceremonies will take place over the next three years to ensure all Black Ferns receive their caps.
Women’s rugby is in a prime position to maximize it’s popularity. And over the last 12 months, have won both on and off the field. A selection of women are now professionally contracted to NZ Rugby, the side has dates scheduled to play in two double-header fixtures; before the men’s team play. As well as being a part of The Rugby Weekend, planned for November in Chicago.
It all just adds to the positivity around the women’s game. And that is only going to be rewarded in continued growth. With young women now seeing a clear pathway and reputable rewards, it is now an goal for young athletes to reach for.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images