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First Black Ferns capped in historic evening

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allblacks.com     08 Jun 2018     Getty Images

Over 300 former Black Ferns, coaches, management, rugby family and friends gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team’s inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup victory and to honour New Zealand’s most successful women’s sports team.

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New Zealand Rugby Board Chair Brent Impey said the evening marked the starting point in recognising the Black Ferns and their decades of success, as well as celebrating those who played such a huge role in developing the women’s game in New Zealand.

“We are in the midst of an incredible time for women’s rugby, including the establishment of semi-professional contracts on the back of a record breaking fifth World Cup title. Tonight was a fantastic opportunity to honour all the women who have contributed to the black jersey and inspired generations of young people to play our national game.”

Impey said the capping project had been years in planning and further capping ceremonies would take place over the next three years to ensure all Black Ferns received their caps.

“One of the enduring consequences of committing to cap the Black Ferns was the opportunity to gather and preserve the history and heritage of the team. We have taken our time to ensure we get it right,” he said.

NZR Board member and captain of the 1998 Black Ferns, Dr Farah Palmer was among those to receive her cap this evening.

She said the women who wore the black jersey carried the aspirations of whanau, friends, team mates, clubs, provinces and Aotearoa.

“It gave us a shared sense of pride and joy that will never leave us. The mana and mauri I feel when watching the ongoing and extraordinary success of this team multiplies as each new generation of players adds to the legacy.”

Receiving their caps tonight were the 1998 Black Ferns and players who represented the Black Ferns in matches in 1989 and 1990 and went on to play official Test matches. Black Ferns who travelled from overseas to attend and the families of Black Ferns who have passed away were also capped.

Over the next three years 161 women who have played in sanctioned Test matches will be capped in ceremonies around New Zealand.

The caps are based on traditional rugby caps and feature the Black Ferns number, the silver fern and details of their Test debut.