Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini has acknowledged some players are frustrated over a lack of communication between New Zealand Rugby (NZR) amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

There has been little word on a post-Covid kick-off for the women's game from NZR, despite plenty of talk about Super Rugby Aotearoa, the All Blacks calendar, the National Provincial Championship and the return of community rugby.

Hirini said she had been in regular communication through various committees and with New Zealand Rugby Players' Association boss Rob Nichol, but acknowledged that the message wasn't getting through to all the players, which has led to frustration in some circles.

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"Communication hasn't filtered down a lot at the moment and I think that's where that frustration is," Hirini told Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave.

"I understand that's been the case for a lot of those athletes, so I understand [their frustration], but I know that there's not been a lot of communication at the moment because there haven't been decisions made, because they can't do that with Government restrictions.

"Some unions are telling their players a lot, and that's great, but there's some things that can't be confirmed yet, and that's probably the real struggle at the moment – there's just a lot of uncertainty so big decisions can't get made."

Sarah Hirini during the HSBC Hamilton World Rugby Sevens. Photo / Photosport
Sarah Hirini during the HSBC Hamilton World Rugby Sevens. Photo / Photosport

NZR CEO Mark Robinson denied there was a disconnect between the organisation and the women's game.

"I'm not sure about that at all – I know our staff in the women's game are working really hard around all the different campaigns and competitions," he told NewstalkZB's Martin Devlin.

"I can understand why there's some frustration in this area but we are very committed to it. We want to win the 2021 Rugby World Cup and we want to make sure our teams have all the possible preparation to get there. But there are significant pressures around rugby as a whole and New Zealand Rugby at the moment in terms of finding the funding to do these things – it's simply a case of trying to find the resources."

Robinson pointed to next month's return of Super Rugby Aotearoa as a competition that could start providing much-needed revenue to assist NZR in getting more clarity about a resumption of important women's tournaments such as the Farah Palmer Cup.

"We need to be able to get some revenue back into the business so we can start making some decisions. There's all these things we'd love to do, but the reality is we're simply not in a position to do as much as we'd like at the moment.

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"I hope people understand that – it's not a case of simply not wanting to do stuff, it's that we're not able to do it and then have a sustainable organisation that can support and foster this game in the future. It's a case of some severe short-term pain, to hopefully get out and back into business again as soon as possible. By virtue of what's going on around the country, hopefully people respect that – I can appreciate they don't like it – but that's the position we're in.

"I'm hoping we can come out in the next few weeks and confirm something and get some rugby under way in the women's game."

Mark Robinson. Photo / Photosport
Mark Robinson. Photo / Photosport

Hirini's personal frustration is with the uncertainty stemming from the pandemic. The Black Ferns' sevens schedule is up in the air as they wait on word from World Rugby as to when they can return to action.

"With the sevens programme, a lot of our decisions are based on World Rugby around international borders and tournaments, so we don't know about that and that's just reality," she said.

"We don't know about our World Series tournament, we don't know about the borders being opened up, we don't even know when we can come back to see the rest of our teammates, even in level 2, so that's probably the most challenging thing at the moment.

"I'm someone who likes to know what's going on and being in a professional environment, every day there's a daily schedule so you know what's going on - but now there's a lot of unknown."

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