'It's really distressing': NZR responds to allegations against Black Ferns coach
New Zealand Rugby [NZR] has responded to allegations made by Black Ferns veteran Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate against the team’s head coach Glenn Moore.
Ngata-Aerengamate, a 32-test hooker who was part of New Zealand’s 2017 World Cup-winning team, took to social media on Monday to reveal she had a mental breakdown during her side’s recent winless tour of England and France in November.
The Black Ferns suffered their four heaviest defeats in history last month, less than a year out from the World Cup in New Zealand.
Ngata-Aerengamate said that during the squad’s time abroad last month, she had a mental breakdown “in front of everyone”.
The 30-year-old claimed her breakdown came after years of mental struggles since her Black Ferns debut in 2013, before making a series of allegations against Moore, the former Highlanders head coach and Blues assistant who has been in charge of the Black Ferns for six years.
Ngata-Aerengamate said that during her time in the Black Ferns, Moore has said to her she had been selected but didn’t deserve to be in the team, that he was embarrassed for her, and that he couldn’t tell her worth in the squad.
She claimed Moore asked her what her students would think of her, and that she was sworn at for wearing her jacket around her hips, yelled at running to rucks, and for how she ran the ball.
Ngata-Aerengamate added that she was recently told that she was only picked in the Black Ferns to play the guitar, and that anything she did she felt like she was doing wrong.
She said these alleged comments led her to go crazy as she claimed she underwent anger management after experiencing anxiety and hyperventilation for the first time in her life.
“I could hear these comments in my mind as I threw the ball,” she captioned her social media post.
“My confidence and self esteem was so low that it made me play like I was walking on egg shells and was constantly too scared to express myself. I invited self doubt and insecurities; some being unbearable to look myself in the mirror.
“The reality is that I had been defeated and it was so dark that I could no longer see my why. I had forgotten about the 5-year-old girl who started playing rugby with her cousins 25 years ago.
The Black Ferns veteran has gone public with her ordeal after becoming ‘mentally ill’ with the sport. https://t.co/8kjvwKjqtn
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 6, 2021
“I let the words over the years get to me, the words became the flesh.
“Lesson is, never let anyone dim your light. Be proud of who you are. If you are treated unfairly, hit them up unapologetically because at the end of the day it’s your mana on the line.
“I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m still a person and at the very least deserve to be treated with respect.”
A day after Ngata-Aerengamate’s post, NZR general manager of performance Chris Lendrum told media that her allegations against Moore were “really distressing”, “very serious” and “thought-provoking”.
“My first reaction is it’s really distressing to read. You never like to see any human describe their own situation in the way that Te Kura has,” Lendrum said.
“We feel for her. Our first priority is to make sure she is okay. Clearly we take any issues raised like this very seriously.”
Lendrum said he had been in contact with Moore for “an initial conversation” on Tuesday and said that he is “distressed and upset” by the allegations made him by Ngata-Aerengamate.
“I think it’s really important for me to acknowledge we’ve got duties to everyone involved in this case,” Lendrum said.
“Glenn is a long-serving employee of New Zealand Rugby and Te Kura is a long-serving Black Fern and they’ve worked together for a long time.
“We’ve got some work ahead of us to explore this issue as part of the review. Glenn will be part of that. It’s a tough time for him and his whanau as well absorbing those comments.
“We’ve had an initial conversation but we have to get our processes right in order to get to the bottom of this situation and I don’t want to pre-judge any of that now.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 7, 2021
Lendrum added that is was “concerning” that Ngata-Aerengamate felt the need to address her challenges on social media, despite the presence of a mental skills specialist, who is a qualified psychologist and doctor, on the Black Ferns tour.
“Last night’s post was a surprise, definitely. We’re a big environment and we’re not immune to mental health challenges. Sometimes they can come into the workplace and sometimes they can be triggered by other things,” he said.
“Whilst we’re really confident in the support structures we have they are never a guarantee of outcomes. That’s the case for any part of society.
“There was a lot of support available for Te Kura but she’s detailed the challenges she faced on that tour and it’s not nice reading for anybody.
“I’m not aware of other issues being raised by players at the moment but our team management and the culture of the Black Ferns will be at the core of our review.
“It is concerning that in spite of those range of outlets Te Kura felt making her comments on social media was how she needed to have her voice. When we get the opportunity to sit down with her we’ll try to understand why that was a necessary step for her.”
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