Taranaki-born Kendra Cocksedge is one of the most influential figures in the global game. After debuting for the Black Ferns at just 19-years-old, Cocksedge has gone on to win two Women’s Rugby World Cup titles (2010 and 2017) and was named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2015. She has also excelled in sevens and was part of the squad that won the inaugural Women’s Sevens World Series in 2013.Read more exclusive columns
OPINION: Women's rugby on a high
Kendra Cocksedge 28 Jun 2018 Getty Images
QUICK TAP: NZ CONFIRM INTEREST IN HOSTING 2021 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
Without their contribution we wouldn’t have seen the historic Black Ferns contracting announcement earlier this year. In a step forward for women’s rugby, we now have 28 Black Ferns on semi-professional contracts. When you consider the fully professional sevens programme, there is a real pathway into professional rugby for our next generation of players and I’m picking we will see fifteens become fully professional in the next 5-10 years.
I was pretty stoked to see New Zealand put their hand up to host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup also. There has never been a World Cup in the southern hemisphere and it would be fitting for the Black Ferns to play the tournament on home soil as five-time champions.
A week after being named in the first professionally contracted @BlackFerns squad, hear from Kendra Cocksedge on her journey to the very top of the women's game. pic.twitter.com/ZeEtUkgMzM— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) May 31, 2018Like we have seen with the men’s Rugby World Cup and the Cricket World Cup in recent years, these events unify the nation and inspire the next generation of stars. To be able to play a World Cup on home turf would be a dream come true so I will keep a close eye on the bidding process. It’s going to be a tough call for World Rugby with five other nations keen to host but fingers crossed.
More history was made when Molenberg came on board as the first ever sole sponsor of the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens. It was a further sign that women’s rugby is heading in the right direction and I want to say thanks to Molenberg for taking the plunge.
With so much happening off the field, we are also preparing for a busy year on the field too.
The Farah Palmer Cup (Women’s domestic competition) is going from strength to strength every year and I am looking forward to backing up last year’s success with the Canterbury girls.
The competition is a breeding ground for the next generation of stars in black. Last year we saw Grace Brooker carve up for Canterbury and teenager Dhys Faleafaga impress for Wellington. Both players were new on the scene and have been rewarded with Black Ferns contracts.
I’m picking more young stars to be unearthed this year, so get to a game or tune into the televised games live on Sky Sport.
The Laurie O’Reilly Cup is our version of the Bledisloe Cup and to play alongside our All Blacks brothers is pretty special. The team loves it. We get to play in big stadiums and our family and friends get to watch both games.
The Black Ferns year will be rounded out with a trip to Chicago to take part in a history-making triple header at Soldier Field.
We are first up in the triple header against USA Women before the Ireland men take on Italy and the Maori All Blacks finish the triple header against USA men.
I was lucky enough to head over to Chicago recently and the hype is already building there. Soldier Field is an NFL Stadium that holds over 60,000 people and they are expecting a packed house.
With everything going on I almost forgot to mention our sevens girls. They are on fire at the moment. They were deserved Commonwealth Games gold medal winners and came close to winning the overall World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series title. They do have the edge on Australia in recent tournaments and are peaking at the right time for the Sevens Rugby World Cup in late July.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my first column for allblacks.com, stay tuned for more as I talk all things rugby throughout the rest of the year.
Spaghetti on toast ?? Cheese on toast ?? Avocado on toast ?? That's what the #BlackFerns and #BlackFerns7s enjoy and we're proud to welcome Molenberg to the team ??#GrowTheGame pic.twitter.com/JgFFweYOl7— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) June 19, 2018