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30 Black Ferns stars reportedly set for significant pay increase

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Fabien Pallueau/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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30 Black Ferns players contracted to New Zealand Rugby [NZR] are reportedly set for a significant pay increase over the coming weeks.

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According to a report from Stuff, NZR will boost player payments by around $35,000, meaning those on Black Ferns contracts will earn between $60,000 and $130,000 per year.

Stuff also reports that players will receive assembly and appearance fees, while there will be an increased contribution to retirement funds.

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The pay increase comes four years after it was announced that Black Ferns players would receive part-time NZR contracts with a base retainer of between $12,000 and $25,000.

New Zealand Rugby Players Association chief executive Rob Nichol told Stuff that the new deal to boost the salaries of contracted Black Ferns will allow those players to prioritise rugby while also enabling them to continue their non-rugby careers.

This is reflected by the expectation that players commit between 24 and 30 hours per week to rugby. That time will be balanced with “personal development days”, which have been written into contracts to enable players to focus on off-field pursuits.

“We don’t want male or female athletes to just put all of their everything into one box. We want them developing themselves away from the game in terms of a sense of identity and a sense of career,” Nichol said.

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“This is an evolution you have to be incredibly responsible about. We don’t want players giving up their jobs to play rugby, but we also recognise you do have to take that step [towards professionalism]. We did it with sevens, and we are doing it with 15s.”

Women in Rugby Aotearoa chair Traci Houpapa added that while she is pleased that Black Ferns players are set for increased pay, she said it is “long beyond time for women to be professionally contracted” in New Zealand.

“Should it have happened earlier? Yes,” she told Stuff. “The fact it’s happened now is a good thing, [but] there’s so much more that needs to happen to ensure a level-playing field in regards to women participating in New Zealand’s national sport.”

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