- Black Ferns legends Regina Sheck and Davida Suasua (nee White) tasked with lighting up the Vodafone Events Centre on Matariki to herald a new era in women’s rugby throughout the Pacific
- Women’s rugby player silhouettes to be projected onto Vodafone Events Centre to represent ‘sisterhood’ in women’s rugby
- The final countdown to Rugby World Cup 2021 begins on Thursday 30 June with 100 days to go until the tournament begins on 8 October at Eden Park
- Rugby World Cup 2021 the first women’s Rugby World Cup to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere
- Rugby World Cup 2021 individual tickets to go on sale Thursday 30 June
On the eve of Matariki on Thursday 23 June, Black Ferns legends Regina Sheck and Davida Suasua (nee White) will flick the switch lighting up the prominent Pasifika landmark as the final countdown to Rugby World Cup 2021 begins.
Individual tickets will go on sale for the first time on Thursday 30 June, coinciding with 100 days to go until Aotearoa New Zealand hosts the women’s Rugby World Cup for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sheck and Suasua will light up the Vodafone Events Centre with women’s rugby player silhouettes to represent the stars of Matariki and the ‘sisterhood’ inherent in women’s rugby. The light projection will run from 6pm to 11pm NZT Thursday 23 and Friday 24 June.
The activation is aimed at recognising the trailblazing wāhine toa throughout women’s rugby history, as well as celebrating the new generation of international players from the 12 competing nations set to take the field this Rugby World Cup 2021.
So far 241 women have worn the Black Ferns jersey since 1989, starting with Black Fern #1 Jacquileen Winika Apiata, through to the most recently capped player, Lucy Anderson, who made her debut during the Black Ferns’ World Rugby Pacific Four Series win versus USA on Saturday 18 June.
Regina Sheck, Black Fern #58 of Samoan/Chinese descent, grew up in Tokoroa and was a member of the 1998 and 2002 women’s Rugby World Cup winning teams, and part of the first officially sanctioned Black Ferns tour to Australia in 1994. She is a former Police officer and now working as a community youth worker and mentor for Blue Light out of its Manurewa branch. Regina has been coaching school girl rugby for the last four years and is this year coaching the Papatoetoe Scarlets team alongside Halyn Anafjeh (Nee Va’aga).
Davida Suasua, of Ngāpuhi and Taranaki descent, featured in the first Black Ferns team to win the women’s Rugby World Cup in 1998 and was also part of the first Black Ferns tour to Australia in 1994. She has since become a prominent women’s rugby coach of the Auckland Storm, Counties Heat and Manu Sina and now works as Principal of Tangaroa College.
Speaking about her rugby career, Sheck said, “I started playing rugby in 1992, the same time that I joined the Police and it was by fluke really that I made the Black Ferns, or the New Zealand Women’s Team as we were called then. I had relocated to Auckland, started playing for Auckland Marist and was in the right place at the right time.
“The bond that we have as a team, that sisterhood, it’s very strong. Even after all this time, we get together and it’s like no time has passed, we tell old war stories and reminisce about old tours. We attended the Black Ferns capping recently and it was exciting to see all of the new girls and the excitement they have going into a Rugby World Cup. You just know that’s an experience that will be with them for life.
“Being asked to switch on the lights and start the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2021 is really exciting. It will be an amazing experience and a great way to celebrate Matariki. Especially with it being the first time that the women’s Rugby World Cup is being hosted in New Zealand and the first ever official celebration and recognition of Matariki. Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars and come October there will be many female rugby stars from around the world being welcomed to the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa.”
Rugby World Cup 2021 is targeting a world record attendance at the opening match day at Eden Park on 8 October where the Black Ferns will take on Australia as part of a triple-header featuring South Africa versus France and Fiji versus England. Eden Park will then create history by becoming the first stadium to host both the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup finals on Saturday 12 November.
For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/2021.