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Women’s Rugby - What to look forward to and celebrate in 2019

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Jordyn McLean     29 Mar 2019     Getty Images

Home tournament locked in for Black Ferns Sevens
It will be great to see both our women’s and men’s Sevens sides competing alongside each other at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton next year. Earlier this month, New Zealand Rugby were awarded a four-year licence to host a leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The New Zealand leg will be one of six combined men’s and women’s events.
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More tournaments confirmed for women’s Sevens circuit
Not only will we be able to see the Black Ferns Sevens compete at home in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, but we will now be able to see more of them, with the women’s circuit expanding from six to eight tournaments for the 2019-2020 season. The eight tournaments next season will be in Colorado, Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Hong Kong, British Colombia and Paris.

Olympic qualification up for grabs
With three tournaments down and three to go in the current HSBC World Sevens Series, the Black Ferns Sevens sit at the top of the table. So far, they are unbeaten through the opening three rounds, with tournament victories in Glendale, Dubai and Sydney. The Black Ferns Sevens need to finish in the top four to gain automatic qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. They are also chasing their fifth World Series title this season. Their next tournament is in Kitakyushu, Japan on 20-21 April.
 
Super Series
The Super Series was announced recently, boasting an exciting new-look competition to be played in San Diego. The Black Ferns will play the world’s top ranked teams in a four-Test series in July, taking on USA, England, France and Canada. The Super Series will showcase the very best of women’s rugby and give the Black Ferns the opportunity to play high-level competition as they build towards the World Cup on home soil in 2021.

Eden Park double header
For the second consecutive year, the Black Ferns and All Blacks will play Australia back-to-back at Eden Park. The Black Ferns and Wallaroos will contest the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy, with their first Test match in Perth on 10 August. The following week on 17 August, New Zealand fans will get the chance to watch the World Champion Black Ferns in the second and final Test at Eden Park, ahead of the second Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and Australia.

Referees to keep an eye on
For the first time ever, six women have been named in the National Referee Squad. Rebecca Mahoney became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s first-class game last year and in 2019, the referee team are determined to see more games officiated by women in the National Squad. Keep your eyes peeled for more females taking charge of first-class games such as the Heartland Championship and Mitre 10 Cup.

Black Ferns appoint full-time manager
In a first for New Zealand Rugby, a full-time Black Ferns manager has been appointed. Lauren Cournane, who has been the manager of the side since 2016, begins her full-time role in early April. With the women’s game growing at a rapid rate and Black Ferns players now semi-professional, NZR realised the need for the role to be better resourced. Cournane will manage the team whilst on tour, as well as taking over most of the logistics for the programme.
Two more Black Ferns capping ceremonies
After the successful inaugural Black Ferns capping ceremony at a reunion dinner in Auckland last year, two more events are set down for Auckland and Christchurch in 2019. Black Ferns who took the field in a sanctioned international Test match will receive a cap over the next two years. 46 Black Ferns were capped at the reunion dinner in June last year, with over 100 more players to be capped in 2019 and 2020. Auckland will host the next event on Saturday 11 May, with the Christchurch event to take place on Saturday 18 May.

Farah Palmer Cup
Expect another exciting season of the Farah Palmer Cup later this year. Wellington are up in the Premiership for 2019, after they defeated Otago in the final last year, while Auckland will contest for the Championship. Canterbury made it back-to-back victories in the Premiership last year, defeating Counties Manukau 52-29 in the final. Watch this space, with the 2019 Farah Palmer Cup schedule to be announced in the coming months.