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Kiwi columnist blasted for 'disgusting' take on women's rugby

By Sam Smith

Trending on RugbyPass

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A Kiwi columnist has been blasted on social media for his take on the women’s game in a respected New Zealand rugby magazine.


Writing for Rugby News, radio personality Sam Casey described New Zealand Rugby’s [NZR] investment in women’s rugby as “hush money” as he claimed “there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to why the Black Ferns or Black Ferns Sevens girls get paid the amount they do”.

Casey also took issue with the fact that the Farah Palmer Cup went ahead last year while other rugby programmes – such as the Heartland Championship, New Zealand Under 20s, New Zealand sevens and New Zealand Schools teams – were cut due to the financial impact of COVID-19.

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“Need I remind you that during that time, hard-working Kiwis employed by NZR were losing their jobs, our national game was bleeding cash, but yet they [women rugby players] saw fit to jump up and down kicking and screaming until they got what they wanted,” Casey wrote in a column headlined ‘Hands Out, Not Up’.

“The cost of running some Probables vs Possibles game for the Black Ferns and the Farah Palmer Cup competition would be enormous, both of which are run at a huge loss.

“Yet the women didn’t have the decency to see that, during COVID-19 times, such fixtures were most definitely a luxury and not a necessity?”

In 2018, a landmark deal was reached between NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association that would ensure 30 Black Ferns employed by NZR will receive annual retainers of between $15,000 and $30,000 in addition to their weekly assembly fees of $2000.


By comparison, New Zealand’s top All Blacks reportedly earn close to $1m per annum, while reports from last year suggest regular, lesser-profile All Blacks command between $450,000 and $600,000 per year.

Furthermore, the All Blacks receive weekly assembly fees of $7500 for every week they are in camp, while the triumphant 2015 World Cup were paid a winning bonus of $160,000.

The Black Ferns, meanwhile, were paid nothing at the time of their 2017 World Cup success in the United Kingdom.

Fully contracted Super Rugby players in New Zealand are also paid between $75,000 to $195,000 per year.


There is currently no women’s Super Rugby competition in New Zealand, although the Blues and Chiefs staged the first-ever women’s Super Rugby match in the country in a one-off fixture two months ago.

Casey went on to take aim at Wellington Farah Palmer Cup player and outspoken women’s rugby advocate Alice Soper for her effort to “publicly spray NZR about doing everything possible to ensure the All Blacks play, but not the Black Ferns”.

In an interview with RNZ last May, Soper called on NZR to be more transparent about the future of the Farah Palmer Cup amid uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.

“Our game is only going to get better, we are not even near the full potential yet so don’t cut us off now we are just getting started,” she said at the time.

“People were really starting to look at what our potential was and now it is not a question of will we play on a main field, it’s a question of will we get to play and that sucks.”

However, Casey labelled her as “detached from reality” as he described New Zealand’s national women’s teams and the Farah Palmer Cup as “nothing but a cost”.

“She [Soper] honestly believed that during such horrific economic times, the NZR shouldn’t have prioritised the biggest money spinners in the game, the ones that pay for the competition she plays in, the ones that pay the wages of the Black Ferns, over teams that are nothing but a cost. It’s astounding.”

Casey claimed “a lot of the revenue earners, the All Blacks and Super Rugby players of this country, are well and truly fed up” as he called on NZR to “take care of those who make the game in this country what it is”.

He suggested other All Blacks are in line to follow Ngani Laumape abroad after feeling “short-changed” as a result of the “hush money being given to women’s game”.

“My advice to NZR is that it needs to stop being held to ransom. Enough of the hush money. If it starts to become all too much, get yaself [sic] a pair of earplugs.”

Casey’s column attracted plenty of criticism on Twitter after Soper described the piece as a “90s style throwback” when she shared it to her 2,437 followers on Thursday.

“Imagine being so powerful, that a dude you don’t know is still mad about an opinion you expressed (and still stand by!) over a year ago,” she said.

“Turns out, I’m that powerful in Sam Casey’s mind. Thanks for the publicity baaaabes!”

Soper’s tweet has, at the time of writing, drawn 131 likes, 19 retweets and 22 replies, most of which have condemned Casey for his article.

“Absolutely disgusting column. Backwards redneck stuff. A lot of good blokes out there support the women’s game but too many are like Sammy here,” one user wrote.

“WTF did I just read? Words fail me. What a dick,” another wrote.

The column evoked a retweet from Sky Sport commentator Taylah Johnson, a Samoa and Counties Manukau women’s representative, who captioned her tweet with a vomiting emoji.

Canterbury women’s cricket representative Kristy Havill also retweeted the column, of which she said was “disheartening to read on a number of levels”.

One Twitter user invited Casey to “run it straight” at Soper, while others questioned the “chauvinistic rabble” of “someone who’s claim to fame is taking an All Black into the wrong student flat”.

In 2018, Casey made headlines when police were called to a Dunedin student flat in the early hours of a Sunday morning after he and All Blacks star Jordie Barrett entered the property eating McDonald’s mistakenly thinking it was a friend’s place.

Before that, Casey rose to prominence for his infamous pre-match speeches for the Highlanders during their play-offs run in the lead-up to their first-ever Super Rugby title in 2015.

Formerly a host of Highlanders TV and radio presenter for NZME, Casey has joined newly-formed radio station SENZ as a producer for the station’s 4-7pm show, which is hosted by Sky Sport presenter Kirstie Stanway and ex-All Blacks first-five Stephen Donald.


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