The world champion Black Ferns are hoping to play more fixtures in the future to build on the momentum of their stellar 2017 season and continue to grow the women's game.

The side were named New Zealand Rugby team of the year at the New Zealand rugby awards on Thursday after claiming a world record fifth World Cup this year. The team went through the competition unbeaten and knocked off defending champions England 41-32 in the final.

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In World Cup years, 2014 and 2017, the Black Ferns have had the platform to show the strength of women's rugby in New Zealand, playing nine and 16 games respectively including World Cup matches.


However, in the two non-World Cup years between, the side had just eight matches in total, compared to the All Blacks' 15 in 2017 alone. Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Fa'amausili said that needed to change.

"We want more games, more games for everyone to see the girls display their skills," she said.

"There's no point us working hard on the side and then just waiting for one or two games at the end of the year - we need some constant games to tag along into the All Blacks games. That's what people want to see. They want to see rugby, not men's or women's, just rugby in general."

The women's game has grown substantially in recent years, with over 24,000 women now playing in New Zealand.

Fa'amausili said on the back of what both the Black Ferns and the Black Ferns sevens teams achieved this year, the women's game will "absolutely" continue to grow.

"With the numbers going up there's no other way to go but to go forward."

Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore, who was named Coach of the Year, said it was up to the current group of players to inspire the next generation and they had to capitalise on the momentum they had built this year.

"The way the current players talk, their role is to be role models and inspire the next generation to come along and to ensure they hand the jersey over in a better space," he said.

"We've got to inspire the next generation to want to come through. We've got a responsibility to do that and it's something the team takes very seriously."

Women's Sevens Player of the Year Ruby Tui echoed Fa'amausili's views and said: "We're not a curtain-raiser. We're a main event."

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In the sevens game, with back-to-back world titles and an appearance at the Olympics, Tui said the women's game had the platform to encourage the next generation like never before.

"We all play footy in club and then regionals, and we got to Rio and were like 'what is this, the Olympics?' And it was, and it was more than we'd ever dreamed and now girls watching on TV can be like 'I want to go to the Olympics'."

The Black Ferns sevens prop said after both the Black ferns and Black Ferns sevens teams claimed world titles this year, there was no better time to capitalise on the strength of the game in New Zealand.

"That's what it's all about. I think for both the Black Ferns sevens and the Black Ferns, that's all we aspire to do - nothing else but to encourage the next generation like hey women are just as good as men at footy and let's see how far we can take that," Tui said.

"I think we're just touching on our potential now."