Dr Farah Palmer: ‘Take a bow trailblazers’
It’s been a rollercoaster ride — and there’s one more loop-de-loop left for the Black Ferns to experience tonight. I feel many things as I reflect on this ride so far, but most of all I feel pride, joy and optimism.
As a Black Fern OG, I feel pride in being part of the whakapapa of the team, along with many other girls, women and men who supported women’s rugby when the system and society said we shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t and can’t.
This weekend is proof that we should, we could, we can, and we did.
Take a bow trailblazers, troublemakers and go-getters! This tournament is for you all.
I feel joy when I’m at the games, and I know the optimism and passion that went into organising and planning this tournament that has created an amazing, uplifting experience. A walk around the concourse at Eden Park reveals an ocean of smiling faces, lots of children, and more diversity than I’ve seen at a rugby game in ages.
People are talking about the games in clubs, pubs, households, workplaces and congregating spaces.
People are no longer seeing women’s rugby as a novelty; we are no longer the bridesmaids. Sports fans are now debating tactics, game plans, selections and key moments, and they know many of the players by name.
The Wā Poi initiative has been a wonderful way to connect with our culture and with each other throughout this World Cup — and believe me the poi paki has been a huge stress relief, and poi rere a great way to express joy!
Last but not least, I feel optimism. The theme of this tournament was all about the ngaru (wave) and its unstoppable energy — that’s been seen on the pitch and in the crowds in Whangārei, Auckland and beyond. From the 83-year-old Thai man we adopted as our kaumātua in the hosting lounge, to the boys and girls (and their parents!) who queue for ages after games to catch a glimpse of superstars like Portia Woodman, Ruby Tui and Amy Rule (we can’t forget the tight five!).
The momentum around women’s sport is building and New Zealand is playing a role in that with the Women’s Cricket World Cup, the RWC21, the Fifa Women’s World Cup, and the IWG World Conference Women & Sport.
No matter what the outcome tonight, Black Ferns I thank you for letting us “hear your rumble” and ngā mihi to all the teams for “bringing it” to Aotearoa.
Thanks to all the fans from Aotearoa and beyond for joining the party.
Let’s keep this unstoppable energy going. As the Black Ferns share at the end of their haka: He tia, he tia, Te Moana nui-a-Kiwa, mai nga tōpito, ki nga moutere, o te ao whānui e. Let us proceed, to the seas, from the corners of the island (Aotearoa) to the neighbouring islands, and around the world.
Dan Carter: ‘This is their time, their moment’
On their path to the Rugby World Cup final, the Black Ferns have done more than win a few games of rugby — they have united the country.
To the players, I say: Thank you. Thanks for being yourselves. Thanks for expressing yourselves on the field with such a beautiful style of play — and thanks for being such authentic, genuine and high-energy characters off the field.
The Black Ferns’ energy is infectious. You can clearly see they love what they are doing. We are so used to watching the All Blacks, I love seeing these women with their fresh take on a new style of women’s rugby.
Knowing the challenges many of the players have overcome to get here makes them even more inspiring. Unlike the men, they’ve only recently gone professional — that means they’ve made major sacrifices in study, work, and even in their family lives.
They’ve made those sacrifices in the hope we can all celebrate New Zealand winning another Rugby World Cup. They’ve done it for us.
Their path has been tough. This tournament was meant to take place last year — Covid-19 derailed that. And when they did return to action, they got hammered on last year’s European tour. France and England had developed so much faster than New Zealand, and we got left behind.
The Black Ferns have used their challenges as motivation. Now they can match — and defeat — any side in the world.
You can see their raw emotion when they play. There’s a lot more to these women than just a game of rugby. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited into the group on a couple of occasions. I’m there to share my knowledge and experience, but I’m the one that walks away feeling energised. I feed off their love and their energy. I’ve only been in a couple of times, but I feel like I’m part of their whānau.
This is a young side that will get stronger and stronger. The more New Zealand supports them, the better they can be.
Tonight they can add an amazing page to the team’s rich history — this is their time, their moment to enhance the legacy of the Black Ferns jersey and build on the rich heritage created by the women who have gone before them.
I was 5 years old when I watched the All Blacks win the 1987 Rugby World Cup final. From that moment, I wanted to be an All Black. Back then, some of my Southbridge teammates were girls, and they didn’t really have a clear pathway to fulfilling their dreams of playing for their country. Today — with the Portia Woodmans and Ruby Tuis on screen and carving it up — the path is being cleared for those kids to follow.
I’ve been lucky enough to play in a World Cup final, so I know what these girls are going through. Our support does matter. If you’re at home, tune in. At the ground, scream your lungs out! When you’re only up by one point and you’re on your defensive line — as they were last week — you can feel the energy from the crowd. Tonight, the Eden Park faithful are the 16th player.
Thank you, New Zealand for getting behind these women. I know you’ll be with me tonight, behind the team when it matters most.
To the girls: do what you’ve always done — be yourselves. Enjoy the game. This is the dream you’ve carried for so long. This is the reason you’ve sacrificed so much, worked so hard behind closed doors, the countless hours put into extra training when no one was watching. Accountable only to yourselves. Now is the time to be yourself, to go out there and express yourself.
You’ve got this!