Black Fern’s Chicago shock
It took Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge 11 years in the black jersey to get there, but yesterday she felt like a superstar in Chicago.
The 2017 World Rugby women’s player of the year was told a week ago she would be flying to Chicago to promote the Black Ferns v USA test match to be played at Soldier Field this November.
So at short notice she packed her bags, flew over and spent the day promoting New Zealand Rugby, women’s rugby and the world champion Black Ferns.
‘‘I was meant to be in Thames Valley for the last couple of days, but I had to get flown over here for this,’’ she said.
Traditionally occupied by NFL, the Chicago stadium has hosted the All Blacks twice, the latest a defeat to Ireland which ended the team’s 18-win world record streak.
Come November it will be the Black Ferns’ time to shine.
‘‘I was talking to one of the USA players today and they are really excited as well. You know for us we are really excited you know, to come to Chicago,’’ Cocksedge said.
‘‘I never thought we would get to play at Soldier Field. You watch the All Blacks there and I never thought I’d get the
opportunity, but it’s happened and it’s really cool.’’
This will be the first time the Black Ferns have played in North America and the women’s match will be part of a triple-header, with New Zealand Maori playing the US Eagles followed by an Ireland v Italy test match.
It is Cocksedge’s first time in Chicago and will be for many more of her Black Ferns teammates after they are selected in August to tour to the US. It is expected coach Glenn Moore will name several new caps directly after World Cup year 2017.
NZR see the test match as an opportunity to grow women’s rugby. Last month they announced a two-test doubleheader with the All Blacks in Sydney and Auckland.
At 29, Cocksedge sounded as excited as she has ever been since playing with the side.
‘‘With me being in the team for 11 years I’ve travelled a lot of places and being the year after the World Cup there are going to be a lot of new girls in the team.
‘‘It is super exciting that these girls are going to get the opportunity to come and play in America.
‘‘I think it just helps rugby in general you know. I think America is obviously well known for American football, baseball and ice hockey. So rugby is seen as a minority sport here and the more that they get exposure to, the more games they have, well people are going to see it and they going to want to play.’’
Cocksedge says hearing about a Black Ferns tour of the United States will have a large impact on young Kiwi girls and women taking up rugby back home in New Zealand.
‘‘The more women and young girls see these things happen the more they are going to want to play and the more they will aspire to be Black Ferns.’’
Sandra Cocksedge is thrilled that the Black Ferns will be travelling to Chicago to play the United States.