“We needed this, it was critical for a bigger picture” – Chiefs Manawa skipper Les Elder

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The Black Ferns captain said while the tournament had its challenges, it was crucial that it went ahead.


“There will be a review I imagine and there will be an opportunity for us to give feedback for what needs to be changed, but for us, we really wanted this to happen.


“We really wanted to play, and I know there’s probably things that could be done differently, but for us to have had the opportunity to play in a critical year for women’s rugby in New Zealand, we are really grateful for that.”


Elder said playing Sky Super Rugby Aupiki was critical for a bigger picture, with the Rugby World Cup being hosted in New Zealand in October. She said Black Ferns selectors will certainly be provided with a few selection headaches after three rounds of the tournament.


“We had girls standing up like Angel Mulu, Tanya [Kalounivale] and Luka Connor. They played outstanding throughout the competition, and it’s given girls that may not have had the chance or be seen, an opportunity to be seen and that’s what we want. We want those headaches at the top.”



The Waitomo Chiefs Manawa are now five from five in Super Rugby matches and coach Allan Bunting said it was great to have the country’s best players coming together and competing.


“I feel like right now, we probably have had enough preparation to start the competition. If it started right now, from this point you would see better quality games.”


Sky Super Rugby Aupiki dealt with several curveballs, with the tournament being reduced to three rounds after Covid-19 did the rounds through the clubs. All four clubs relocated to Taupō and remained in a bubble. Elder said every team faced different challenges, but they didn’t want to use that as an excuse to stop them from achieving what they wanted to achieve.


“We had a really awesome management group that managed all that stuff at the start and I think it paid dividends towards the end. We were affected, but our management group did really well to keep it under control.”


The win was just the icing on the cake for Elder.


“We set out to achieve something pretty special and we achieved that before we walked out on the pitch tonight. We were trying to develop something a bit deeper than just playing rugby. We got to see women really grow as people and that for me was probably my highlight.”



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