Rikki Swannell

New Zealand's first female rugby commentator

Earlier this year, when the Crusaders played the Waratahs in Christchurch, Rikki Swannell became New Zealand's first female play-by-play television commentator in Super Rugby history.

As one of New Zealand's pre-eminent sporting broadcasters, she has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, cricket, tennis, hockey, netball and myriad other sports events.

Humility, versatility and knowledge have forged success in her craft. From a junior reporter, Swannell quickly rose through the male-dominated ranks of Radio Sport to become the news editor, where she commanded the respect of her all-male reporting team.

Swannell has always disliked being singled out for her gender and prefers to be judged on a level playing field.

"People will probably make a big deal about me being the first women to call Super Rugby but ideally I just want to slip in quietly and be one of the team of great commentators that Sky's rugby coverage has," she said in January.

"That's what I've always wanted to be known as from my days of reporting at Radio Sport to now - that I am good at what I do, and not just a good woman at what I do."

But she also acknowledges there aren't enough women in sports journalism - saying she and her female colleagues "stand out like sore thumbs".


"Sport is still seen as a masculine and a bloke kind of area, but there are a lot of women who love it, and a lot of women who want to be involved, and a lot women who have the knowledge and ability to do so."