Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Rugby: Dr Farah Palmer lends name to premier provincial rugby competition

The face of New Zealand women's rugby has now lent her name to the country's premier provincial competition.

New Zealand Rugby today announced the women's provincial championship has been renamed the Farah Palmer Cup in recognition of the former Black Ferns captain, who led New Zealand to three World Cup wins.

The competition will kick off under its new name on August 6.

Dr Farah Palmer said having the competition that launched her own rugby career named after her was a great honour, although she admits she was a little reluctant initially when New Zealand Rugby first approached her.

"I did say 'can I sleep on it?' and I went home and asked my partner and my family what they thought, because I didn't want to put myself out there if I thought it wasn't something people thought was appropriate," said Palmer.

"I had a little think about it, and I thought 'it's not about me, it's about women in general and seeing themselves be acknowledged in sport' so I was really supportive of that."

"There's always that whole thing of putting women in front of something to explain what it is, so it is nice to give it its own identity."

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said the renamed competition represented an exciting time for rugby and was an appropriate acknowledgement of the contribution made by Palmer, who was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2014.

"Farah is a legend of the game. There will be many players out there delighted for women's rugby in New Zealand and especially proud of Farah," Sorensen said.

"She's been an important and loyal advocate for women's rugby in New Zealand for many years and has continued to provide great leadership through various administration roles including the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board.

"It's right that other players now following her footsteps and striving to be the best rugby players they can be, can compete in the Farah Palmer Cup knowing that it provides an important pathway to the Black Ferns," he said.

Palmer said she was looking forward to the 2016 season and to players starting to impress ahead of the Black Ferns 2016 programme and next year's Women's Rugby World Cup.

Nine provinces - Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago - will vie for a claim on the inaugural Farah Palmer Cup title.

- NZ Herald

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