The Black Ferns' brilliant second-half display against England in Belfast saw them raise the World Cup, which in turn raised more questions about how to develop women's rugby.

Fullback and Manawatu police constable Selica Winiata, who scored their opening try in the final, former Black Fern turned commentator Melodie Robinson and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew spoke to Radio Sport's Martin Devlin about the victory and what lies ahead.

Selica Winiata
Winiata was still coming to terms with the World Cup win. She said money had never been the objective for Black Ferns, but she looks forward to the day when increased backing can make the game even better.

"It is still a bit surreal - it is an awesome feeling, and once we get home to our families and see the support for us, it will sink in," she said from Ireland.


"Our forwards started to dominate, which you haven't always seen - the English forwards are known to be strong. It was an awesome atmosphere and a packed crowd, which we don't get to play in front of very often, and it was awesome to get it first try."

The 30-year-old Winiata, who made her test debut in 2008, said the players had already started talking about adjusting to "some normality".

"It seems like we've been away a long time when really we haven't - it's only a month," she said.

"it will be straight into work, back home looking after kids. The girls would love to continue playing rugby and being together, so it will be a bit of a shock to the system.

"But hey, that's what the Black Ferns are about."

When asked about her views on a more professional approach, Winiata said: "It's hard for me to really say - I'm not in a position to make those calls.

"And I'm not one to judge the women against the male side of things, because we know it is totally different..

"The Black Ferns legacy has always been you work and train when you can get together, at short notice, and go to the tournaments.


"It is pretty tough and I think you can see what we achieve as a team doing that ... and what we could do if we were actually paid to just train and play the game we love.

"Who knows, but obviously we need quite a bit of backing to do that, and whether or not that happens I'm not sure.

"In women's rugby, we play the game because we love it - it's never been about money, I guess because we've never had it. That won't stop us playing.

"But if there came a day when you were paid to play and train, that would only lift the game in New Zealand."

Melodie Robinson
The former Black Ferns loose forward said the atmosphere at the boutique ground in Belfast was unique among her World Cup experiences - "like a sevens party".

She believes New Zealand Rugby needs outside commercial help to take the women's game forward.

"I was ecstatic, it was such a great game," she told Devlin from Ireland.

"New Zealand tried something different ... England couldn't handle the power, explosiveness and strength of those fantastic forwards."

The 44-year-old Robinson said it had been "bloody hard" balancing work with her own playing career.

She believed in a mix-and-match approach, designed for what tournaments lay ahead at any one time, with minimal full-time salaries. The new era would ideally include a two-month professional competition.

"I would not propose it being full-time apart from the sevens, although it could be for part of the year," Robinson said. "That is what I would argue for.

"I think the sevens and 15s are complementary ... the economic realities are that women's rugby doesn't bring in income, apart from the AIG part-sponsorship and Sport New Zealand sponsors the sevens.

"Competitions are the first step and then sell the competitions. You've got to put money in to get money out.

"It is time New Zealand looked at professional contracts ... they need to consider that, if they want to keep moving forward with the game. They need someone to sell these concepts, invest some money, get a commercial operator dedicated to selling women's rugby."

She hoped that not too much of the game's "folklore" would be lost.

"These girls have got some beautiful rich stories behind them, which are part of the folklore of the game and we might lose some of that."

Melodie Robinson - would love to see a two-month professional window for our women's rugby.
Melodie Robinson - would love to see a two-month professional window for our women's rugby.

Steve Tew

The NZR boss described the World Cup win as "an outstanding achievement".

"We are proud of the performances throughout the campaign and yesterday was one of those special black jersey days," he said.

"It's great - everyone is talking about it. We couldn't buy this sort of public discussion."

Tew said New Zealand's location made it hard to emulate what teams like England can do.

"The big challenge is we need a programme for our women to play and it is easier for the Six Nations to do that in a cost-effective way," he said.

"In the last couple of years, we have prioritised a lot of camps, especially for the forwards, which has paid dividends.

"We've also had England, Australia and Canada out here this year, our team went away at the end of last year and we hosted a series as well."

Tew said the domestic nine-team Farah Palmer Cup was purely amateur - "a reflection of where that competition currently sits".

"We've struggled to get all 14 ITM Cup unions to play in that, but it has grown,"he said.

"I'm not sure exactly how many Black Ferns sevens were in this squad, but three or four are effectively fully contract professionals. In terms of 15s, we simply don't have full-time competitions that could sustain professional athletes."

NZR's focus is on attracting young girls into the game.

"We are not retaining them at secondary school level - there is a very similar problem in the male game," he said.

"But there is more interest and growth in the female game than we've ever had before."