New Zealand Rugby under fire over ‘disgraceful’ Black Ferns scheduling clash

New Zealand Rugby under fire over ‘disgraceful’ Black Ferns scheduling clash

Leaders in New Zealand have slammed New Zealand Rugby for “disgraceful” scheduling that will see the All Blacks and Black Ferns matches clash this weekend. On Saturday, the national men’s rugby side begin their northern tour by playing Japan at 4.50pm AEDT while less than an hour later, the national women’s rugby side kick off their World Cup quarter-final against Wales.

In effective terms, New Zealand Rugby have put the Black Ferns in the shade of the mighty All Blacks by scheduling the Test match. The acting prime minister, Grant Robertson, said the clash was “really unfortunate” and that the Black Ferns, gunning for a World Cup on home soil, deserved clear air.

“I do expect better from New Zealand Rugby than that. This is a major international tournament that we’re hosting,” he said. “I really do think everything should have been done to avoid that.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, NZR admitted not understanding the World Cup rules. “When Japan Rugby set the kick-off time for the All Blacks Test, NZR did not take into account … that the host nation would play in the quarter-final two timeslot,” it read.

With support from broadcasters, NZR has arranged for fans to be able to watch their choice of live match, and then a delayed broadcast of the other national team directly after. Still, justice minister Kiritapu Allan went further than Robertson, calling the clash disgraceful on Twitter.

“I’ll be supporting our Black Ferns this weekend in Whangarei. But NZ Rugby, this clash was avoidable, and frankly, disgraceful,” she wrote. Deputy opposition leader Nicola Willis told Newstalk ZB it was “sloppy and a wasted opportunity”.

NZR is often criticised for failing to invest or support women in rugby. Earlier this year, they lost $NZ280,000 ($A250,000) of government support as the only sport not to meet a requirement of having 40% women on their board.

They have been savaged for their failure to promote the Black Ferns during the New Zealand-hosted Women’s World Cup, which is run by global governing body World Rugby, this month.

On the eve of the tournament, NZR announced it had invested in 33 non-fungible tokens, “in a show of support for the Black Ferns”, a move that was derided online. “Why not just burn a big pile of money in front of the Black Ferns instead?” one Twitter user wrote.

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