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NZR statement: Saturday's All Blacks, Black Ferns fixtures gaffe

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The NZR have issued a statement admitting it neglected to take into account the women’s World Cup schedule when organising this Saturday’s All Blacks match with Japan in Tokyo. Fans have been fuming in recent days after it emerged they will be forced to choose which match they watch live this weekend – either the Black Ferns versus Wales in the RWC quarter-finals or the opening match of the All Blacks’ latest northern hemisphere tour.

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Saturday’s men’s Test game kicks off at 6:50NZT while the women’s knockout match kicks off 40 minutes later in Whangarei, an overlap that will mean that for the entirety of the second half of the All Blacks’ clash with Japan, fans will have to choose between watching the men or the women play live.

The clash has resulted in the NZR coming under fire, with some fans believing this latest organisational gaffe “only serves to reinforce the belief that those in decision-making roles are just not fit for purpose”.

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It took until Wednesday for the NZR to finally issue a statement on the fixtures clash, a 275-word media release that read: “New Zealand Rugby acknowledges the scheduling clash between the Black Ferns’ crucial Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Wales in Whangarei and the All Blacks Test against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, when Japan Rugby set the kick-off time for the All Blacks Test, NZR did not take into account the Rugby World Cup stipulation that the host nation would play in the quarter-final 2 timeslot regardless of pool results and may inadvertently cause a clash.

“There was never an intent to overshadow the Rugby World Cup in any way, and New Zealand Rugby is delighted with how New Zealanders have embraced not only the Black Ferns but the tournament as a whole. NZR did make a request to Japan Rugby to move the kick-off time but we respect the reasons provided for not being able to shift the time.

“We know the scheduling clash is not ideal, but fans are still able to watch and support the Black Ferns and the All Blacks. We encourage New Zealanders to keep their inspiring support of the Black Ferns as they continue their journey through what has been a wonderful tournament to date.

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“This promises to be an exciting weekend of rugby for our teams in black, and we look forward to supporting both the Black Ferns and All Blacks this weekend. Fans can watch the Black Ferns live on Spark Sport from 7:30pm and then a delayed replay of the All Blacks on Sky Sport from 9:30pm.

“Fans can watch the All Blacks live on Sky Sport from 6:50pm and then watch delayed coverage of the Black Ferns on Three from 8:30pm.”

Spark Sport commentator Scotty Stevensonwas miffed when the fixtures clash was confirmed, stating on Instagram: “On August 12 this year, this schedule was released by NZR. Between then and now, NZR has decided that they are happy that the kick-off between the All Blacks and Japan directly clashes with the Black Ferns RWC quarter-final. That organisation has known for more than a year that this was the quarter-final slot for its team.

“How an organisation can do this intentionally when it undermines its own team, when it disadvantages its own fans, and when it only serves to illustrate its own hollow rhetoric when it comes to its support of the women in the game no longer surprises. It only serves to reinforce the belief that those in decision-making roles are just not fit for purpose.”

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Comments

1 Comment
M
Michael Röbbins (academic and writer extraordinair 606 days ago

Ah, give them a slight break, NZ rugby can’t help but consistently denigrate women; it’s constitutive of their nature. One doesn’t hold a lion accountable for biting the trainer every now and then.

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