A female has appeared on the cover of the fabled Rugby Almanack for the first time.

Retired Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Fa'amausili is pictured lifting the Women's World Cup alongside New Zealand's player of the year, Sam Whitelock.

Never before has the Almanack given female rugby such prominent billing as there is also a record 82 pages devoted to the women's game.

The esteemed publication, which now has 82 editions, also names Black Ferns wing Portia Woodman as one of its five players of the year.

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This uplift in profile is a sign of rugby finally accepting it is a sport for both genders, something that became clear last year when the Black Ferns captured the public imagination with their heroics at the World Cup.

They secured their fifth title, defeating England in an epic World Cup final that set record broadcast audiences around the world.