'Wahine Round' of Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup celebrate milestone for Women
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Kristina Sue of Manawatu celebrates a try during the round one Farah Palmer Cup match between Auckland and Manawatu on September 1, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

125 years ago, New Zealand led the world in recognizing women, when the government of the day legalized the rights of women, to vote. A formalization of the growing suffragette movement, which this weekend will be celebrated in New Zealand Rugby. The very first ‘Wahine Round’ of Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup fixtures will highlight the important milestone for Women.

Wahine is the Maori word for women, for mother. And as the world leader in women’s rugby – and being the current holders of both the Women’s World Cups for XVs and 7s – what better theatre to stage such a celebration, than on a rugby field.

So fixtures this weekend include five double-header Farah Palmer and Mitre 10 Cup matches that have been specifically scheduled throughout the round. That will see four of the five Farah Palmer Cup matches to be shown live on SKY TV. The perfect opportunity to shine the light on the women’s game, as a package; with entertainment for both the pure rugby fan and the family included.

What better way to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, than with a Wahine Round.

‘Wahine Round’ of Farah Palmer Cup celebrate milestone for Women

NZR chief rugby officer Nigel Cass, said in a media release that the round was rugby’s way of joining the national celebration of the anniversary of women’s suffrage in a unique rugby-way.

“As our national game rugby is proud to join the celebrations for the 125 year anniversary of women’s suffrage. We’re encouraging fans to head out to matches to support their Mitre 10 and Farah Palmer Cup teams, wear something purple and enjoy the action.

“On the field woman are leading the growth of the game and there are more on-field opportunities than ever before for women and girls to play, coach and referee.”

Fans attending the matches will be able to enjoy the celebrations, with Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup teams and stadium initiatives planned by Provincial Unions.

New Zealand Rugby referees are set to wear purple uniforms throughout the Wahine Round as an acknowledgment to the official colour of women’s suffrage.

Progress continues in the Women’s rugby game

For years, the building voice of support for women’s rugby has grown. Up to this point, it has been a separate match. Played on a different field, and only sometimes reported on; and, less likely to be broadcast.

Today, right across the rugby globe, women playing rugby is a popular option to watch in person, and on television. Now an option to decide on which game do I watch? Not which game do I watch, but the option of choosing between women’s rugby or men’s rugby.

And many many more are choosing to enjoy women’s rugby.

That was greatly expressed on Saturday, August 18, when the Wallaroos v Black Ferns match opened the double-header. The first time ever in Australia, and a continuation of the model used by NZ Rugby in curtain raiser games.

Now, the Black Ferns will be considered on par with the All Blacks. Not a supporting act, but as a peer for the All Blacks. And the same respect earned 125 years ago by women, continues in 2018, where a Farah Palmer Cup game will be played as a double-header with a Mitre 10 Cup match.

And for the women players involved, a select few will hold professional rugby contracts, that gives young women watching, a similar pathway to aspire to, that can make them professional sports people.

Note: England Rugby this week re-established professional rugby contracts for the XVs players. After dismissing the benefits after the 2017 WRWC event, the backdown shows how influential the women’s game is becoming. No nation, no matter how powerful they may be, can hold back the tide of progress for women’s rugby – in very must the same way, as the right to vote could not be withheld from women in Britain [made legal in 1918].

Dr Farah Palmer receives Women of Influence award

The namesake of the women’s rugby provincial competition herself has been further recognized. She was on hand to receive a ‘Women of Influence’ award, that highlights the work of the former-Black Ferns wahine.

The Women of Influence Awards recognize New Zealand women who are making a positive difference in the lives of their fellow New Zealanders, by helping the next generation positively shape their future.

If ever one example can be seen of one woman taking on the responsibilities of her fellow wahine, than Farah Palmer is that women. Now a member of the NZ Rugby board, head of the NZ Maori Rugby board and the ambassador of the sport which will take center stage this weekend, the wahine is extremely proud of the progression and growth of the game.

Young girls can be inspired by each of the 23 women who represent their provinces this weekend. As much as Dr Farah Palmer, Black Ferns captain Fiao’o Faamausili, and all the women across the globe, who lead women’s rights and participation.

The ‘Wahine Round’ will take place from September 17, during Week 6 of the Mitre 10 Cup, and during Week 4 of the 2018 Farah Palmer Cup competition.

 

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