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Be a fly on the wall with the 'Black Ferns: Wahine Toa' documentary

By Lucy Lomax
Amy du Plessis of the Black Ferns (L) is congratulated on her try by Ruby Tui (R) during the International Women's test match between the New Zealand Black Ferns and Japan at Eden Park on September 24, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

As more and more unions release behind the scenes documentaries with exclusive access of their teams ahead of kick-off of World Cup 2021, New Zealand are no different with the arrival of ‘The Black Ferns: Wahine Toa’ a two-part documentary with episode 1 airing last week in New Zealand.

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The film profiles the many women who balance rugby with various other aspects of their busy lives and follows the team as they emerge from the Covid 19 pandemic and prepare to defend the Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Episode 1 goes behind the scenes of the Black Ferns Northern tour last Autumn, explores how religion and faith has played a big role with many players and how children of the players are now allowed into the team environment, and the difference this has made.

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The documentary also highlights the M?ori and Pasifika women in the five-time world champion team and goes behind the scenes of longstanding Black Ferns Renee Wickliffe and wife Portia Woodman and why being Maori and playing rugby has made them the people they are today.

On the topic of having children in the team setting Wickliffe says in the documentary: “It’s pretty cool that we’re able to have kids in our team environment now, I guess it wasn’t accepted in the past. Being a mother myself, I think about it now and it’s quite sad that we had to leave our babies at home and they couldn’t come into camps or travel with us.

“I wanted to be a mother as well as a rugby player so it’s cool that mums have the opportunity to bring their kids along. It just brings a whole different energy. I think we need to be attached to our babies as it helps us mentally.”

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Episode 2 continues the trend, lifting the veil on an array of players including record Black Ferns caps holder Kendra Cocksedge, following her back to her hometown.

Cocksedge said: “The world is about to find out what this Black Ferns team is about and the sacrifices of working full time and having to train over many years and I’m really excited!

“It was quite strange having the cameras following us around for the past 14/ 15 months and my family were a bit camera shy at times. Everyone is balancing families, jobs and some come from pretty rough backgrounds and upbringings but they’ve still been able to pull on a black jersey and represent their country.

“I think it’s the first time we’ve had a documentary filmed about us in the 15 years that I’ve been playing so it’s very special.”

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As the promotional line for the documentary goes: ‘By day they are teachers, students, nurses, farmers, and policewomen, but after hours they put their lives on hold for the black jersey.’

Watch episode 1 on YouTube.

Episode 2 will be airing on Prime at 8:30pm (NZ time) on Thursday 6th October and available on-demand on Neon from October 7th.

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