Black Ferns' secret reo weapon

By James Perry

As the Black Ferns prepare the second event of the World Series Sevens circuit in Dubai, Ruby Tui reveals a secret weapon they possess. 

"Te reo is a huge part and that's been a huge part of our calls- on and off the field," the forward says.

It is something that has been driven largely by coach Allan Bunting and superstar Portia Woodman.

Tui, who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and a World Cup in San Francisco, says it provides the team with an added advantage when considering that some of the other top women's teams such as Canada, Australia and England all speak English.

"We know it's working because one time one of the refs we know really well, she said 'oh I had all your calls sussed out, your kick offs sussed out'.  We said the number in Māori and we just about kicked the ball straight into her because she didn't understand the call."

Of Samoan descent, Tui told Australian Women's Weekly last month that she is often mistaken as being Māori.  However, she has a strong affinity with tangata whenua. 

"It's part of the reason why I wear the black jersey.  When I play it's to represent this country and all the beautiful things it has and the Māori culture is one of the most important parts." 

It's an attitude she has taken to her role as a commentator for Sky Sports.  Tui has become familiar to viewers as part of the commentary team during the Farah Palmer and Mitre 10 Cup competitions this year.

She believes that pronouncing names correctly is important. 

"Especially the Māori names.  If they can't get it right in their own country, in New Zealand, what kind of standard does that set for the rest of the world?"

Tui acknowledges the effort that is put in by her commentary colleagues before each game, in particular the likes of Ken Laban, Karl Te Nana and Rikki Swannell. 

"They sit there and have a good go at the names which I think is really important."

The 26-year-old has enjoyed her role on the sideline this year.  It provides her with an opportunity to do something other than playing rugby "and obviously I get to watch the games hard out which I don't always get to do when we're travelling or training away".

As a current player she doesn't find it difficult to remain objective or neutral when calling games involving her friends and team mates.  In fact, she says, "it makes it a bit more fun...the only thing I'm probably a little unfair about is I'm a bit honest about who's actually funny and who's actually not in the team.  So that's got nothing to do with footy so we're all good."

With her commentary gig finished for the year, Tui is turning her focus back on to the World Series Sevens tournament in Dubai in two weeks time, where the Black Ferns Sevens- or 'Sevens Sisters'- hope to capitalise on their strong start to the season in Glendale, Colorado, last month.