Exciting new era for Black Ferns

getty     03 Aug 2011     getty

The multi-year programme agreed between the RFU (England) and NZRU will guarantee the Black Ferns play a total nine Test matches against England over the next three years.

The new era commences in November 2011 with the Black Ferns travelling to England for a three-Test series against last year’s Women’s RWC runners-up. England hosts the Black Ferns again for a three Test series in 2012, before New Zealand hosts England in 2013 for three matches including Tests against the Black Ferns.

With RWC Black Ferns Coach Brian Evans taking a break from coaching this year, the NZRU today also announced the appointment of Assistant Coach Grant Hansen as the Black Ferns Head Coach this year, with Otago Women’s NPC coach John Kyle being appointed as his Assistant Coach.

NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said the three year-programme and coaching team provided certainty for the Black Ferns heading into the 2014 Women’s RWC in France where they will be seeking to achieve an astonishing fifth consecutive title.

“This is a huge step forward for us and the Black Ferns. We have been working for a number of years to find meaningful opportunities and opponents for the Black Ferns and we are grateful to the RFU for making this possible,” Sorensen said.

“To know that we are going to see the world’s two top women’s rugby teams in action for nine internationals over the next three years is really exciting. It will be hugely beneficial for both teams as they prepare for the Women’s Rugby World Cup,” he said.

Mr Sorensen said following the re-launch of the Women’s NPC in 2011, the confirmation of the Black Ferns programme creates certainty for New Zealand’s aspiring and recognised international players; a pathway for coaches and the NZRU to prepare the team for the next World Cup; and a base on which to build the women’s game and fan base with a view to participation in the 2016 Olympic Games Sevens tournament.

“We have not only achieved a regular programme against quality opposition but we have also been able to create a fantastic touring opportunity for these teams funded in large part by the RFU which demonstrates the respect that is held for our world champions.”

Head Coach Grant Hansen said he was thrilled with the prospect of a three year schedule of Test matches against traditional arch rivals England.

“We’re incredibly proud to have taken out the Women’s RWC in four consecutive tournaments and a three-year programme definitely strengthens the planning for our next RWC campaign.

“We have some very strong and talented women out there and the unavailability of some of our 2010 Black Ferns means there will be an opportunity for new players to put themselves into the frame for selection. These international fixtures always provide an added incentive for them to excel in their sport.

“It’s great to have John Kyle with us this year - he is a familiar face to many of the players. John has shown great loyalty to the women’s game, having been Otago Women’s Assistant Coach in 2006, then moving into the Head Coach role until this year, and he’ll be a huge asset to our campaign this year,” Hansen said.

Rosie Williams, Managing Director of the Rugby Football Union for Women, said: “We are really excited about this announcement. It is the first time that we have had a three year commitment to play New Zealand and this will do wonders from both a playing and profile perspective.

“This agreement is the icing on the cake for us. We now have regular tests against the current World Champions, as well against the USA and Canada in the Nations Cup, and of course Europe’s best in the Women’s RBS 6 Nations.”

Black Ferns 2011 – 2013 programme:

2011: Black Ferns Travel to England for three Tests on 26 and 29 November, and 3 December

2012: Black Ferns Travel to England for three Tests

2013: England travels to New Zealand for three Tests