Matches matter most for Black Ferns
As the Black Ferns are ending their first season as paid professionals, coach Glenn Moore says while money has been reimbursement for hardship, more quality games are what’s really needed.
In April, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced that the XVs women would be paid to play for the first time.
With training camps, match fees and retainers combined, leading players could earn between $30,000 and $45,000.
While an improvement, Moore says players give up a large amount of their social, work and family lives to wear the black jersey.
‘‘To be honest I just see it as being a reimbursement for some of the sacrifices they have to make. Getting some time off their job to be able to train, it’s a big sacrifice,’’ Moore said.
‘‘I don’t recall ever hearing [contracts] talked about in here, the only thing I hear talked about is the pride in the jersey.’’ Glenn Moore, Black Ferns coach
Time training – with the team and individually – is demanding for an athlete who isn’t a fulltime professional and has to fit in a fulltime job.
‘‘If you’re going through training programmes it means you’re going to be a little later for work. You need an employer who is going to be flexible for help and you need the ability to cover some of that income that you lose.’’
As head coach when the Black Ferns won the World Cup in 2017, and again for the year of the pay cheque, Moore says money has helped, but to improve his side needs more than that.
‘‘To keep getting better we need more competition and we need more competition against the big players. It’s like any sport, the more time you get against good competition with high intensity and physicality – it makes us better.
‘‘In all honesty, I don’t recall ever hearing [contracts] talked about in here, the only thing I hear talked about is the pride in the jersey and the most important part is representing the brand respectfully.
‘‘I’m guessing for some of the ones getting an education, it’s probably the difference of being able to go and train and maybe not have to work, waitressing at night sort of thing.
‘‘They are obviously very appreciative, but the only thing I ever hear mentioned is the pride of playing in the jersey.’’
The Black Ferns arrived in France on Monday this week, with just four more days to recover after their test match against the USA in Chicago. From Paris, they took the five-hour train trip to Toulon.
Moore expected the French to be physical in the forwards and the Six Nations winners to test his side more than they were last weekend in the USA.
‘‘We realise they’ve got a big pack and a really physical pack. We want to play the game with high intensity throughout the game, that gives us ability to make extra replacements in the forwards,’’ he said.
‘‘These guys will be formidable opponents, but we are always backing ourselves to win no matter who we play. We are looking forward to the match. We are respectful of them, but that’s where it starts and finishes.’’
Moore has named one debutante – flanker Marcelle Parkes, 20, from Wellington – in the lineup, while Hawke’s Bay’s Krysten Cottrell will start at first five-eighth, with Ruahei Demant moving out one spot to second five.
Parkes had been going from strength to strength in training and was ready to make her mark on the big stage, Moore predicted.
The Black Ferns reserves will be made up of six forwards and two backs, a proven combination from last year’s World Cup.
Black Ferns flanker Linda Itunu will retire following the Black Ferns’ series against France. A 37-test veteran, she will come off the bench in the first test in Toulon today.
Glenn Moore works with the Black Ferns during a training session in Sydney this year, when they have become a professional team for the first time.