The Black Ferns, New Zealand's women's rugby world champions, are set to begin negotiations for a pay increase and other improved benefits.
Their success in Ireland earlier this year in claiming the World Cup with a remarkable come-from-behind victory over the England will improve their negotiating power significantly, and New Zealand Rugby's official announcement today comes hard on the heels of Finance and Sports Minister Grant Robertson's call for pay parity for the Black Ferns with the All Blacks.
New Zealand Rugby will sit down with the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association to decide on what has been described as a "negotiation protocol" which will set down the terms of reference for the talks.
When those talks begin before the year is out, remuneration and other issues for the country's elite 15-a-side female players will be on the agenda. Presumably those benefits will in time filter down to the women's seven-a-side players, who won an Olympic silver medal last year.
"This is an exciting time for us, and for women's rugby, as we discuss enhancements to the environment for the elite women's 15s programme," NZ Rugby's general manager of the game Neil Sorensen said.
One of those set to benefit is Sarah Goss, a sevens player who also helped the Black Ferns to their historic win in Belfast in August and was named yesterday as the best female athlete in Oceania at the Association of National Olympic Committees Awards in Prague.
During their most recent respective Rugby World Cup campaigns, it is understood the women earned about $2000 in match fees, the men $7500. The men are also paid annual retainers ranging from $195,000 to $850,000 and had a bonus structure which meant victory brought them each an additional $100,000.
Another glaring discrepancy was the fact the men's 15-a-side players travel the world in business class (and that applies to Super Rugby players too). The Black Ferns had to fly home from Ireland in economy class after playing five games in 17 days.
The men travelled home business class from England in 2015, having played seven games in 43 days.
Robertson said last weekend the issue was on the Government's agenda so is likely to be delighted at the recent developments.
"I certainly believe that the Black Ferns should be paid better. They're a world champion team," he said on TV3's The Nation.
The Black Ferns' pay parity and general treatment issues have echoes of the Australian women's cricket players' recent struggles.
In August, women cricketers across the Tasman agreed terms for a significant pay rise following negotiations between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association agreed terms.
The deal ended an ugly pay dispute and confirmed an agreement for all male and female cricketers for the first time in Australia and the biggest pay rise in the history of women's sport in the country.
Female player payments will increase from $8 million to $59m and women will be party to a modified revenue-sharing model that gives players 30 per cent of agreed revenue, consisting of 27.5 per cent of forecast revenue streams.
All male and female players will then receive a 27.5 per cent share of revenue that goes beyond forecasts.
The deal was struck after 10 months of sometimes bitter negotiations which were described in the Australian media as "difficult" and "acrimonious".