New Zealand leaders have slammed New Zealand Rugby for the “disgraceful” schedule that will feature the All Blacks and Black Ferns this weekend. On Saturday, the men’s national rugby team begins their northern tour with a game against Japan at 4.50pm Australian time, with the women’s national rugby team starting their World Cup quarter-final against Wales in less than an hour.
In fact, New Zealand Rugby put the Black Ferns in the shadow of the mighty All Blacks by scheduling a test match. Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the clash was “really unfortunate” and that the Black Ferns, who are fighting for the World Cup on home soil, deserve a breath of fresh air.
“I expect the best from New Zealand rugby. This is a major international tournament that we are holding,” he said. “I really believe that everything should have been done to avoid this.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, NZR admitted it did not understand the rules of the World Cup. “When Japan Rugby set the kick-off time for the All Blacks Test, NZR failed to take into account … that the host nation would play two quarter-finals,” it said.
With the support of broadcasters, NZR arranged for fans to watch their chosen match live, followed by a delayed broadcast of the second national team immediately afterwards. However, Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan went further than Robertson, calling the clash shameful on Twitter.
“I will be supporting our Black Ferns this weekend in Whangarei. But this collision was avoidable and, frankly, shameful,” she wrote. Deputy Opposition Leader Nicola Willis told Newstalk ZB it was “sloppy and a wasted opportunity”.
NZR is often criticized for not investing in or supporting women in rugby. Earlier this year they lost NZ$280,000 ($250,000) in government support as the only sport not meeting the requirement of 40% women on the board.
They were lambasted for not promoting the Black Ferns during the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this month.
Ahead of the tournament, NZR announced it had invested in 33 irreplaceable tokens “in support of the Black Ferns”, a move that was ridiculed online. “Why not just burn a big pile of cash in front of the Black Ferns?” – wrote one of the Twitter users.