Celebrating 125 years of Women's Suffrage in New Zealand, a chance to promote the women's game, but also acknowledge the many women who contribute to rugby in NZ.
Doubleheaders were held to acknowledge the role women have played in NZ rugby as part of Wahine Round that coincided with Suffrage movement commemorations. Auckland Storm player Ruahei Demant says that New Zealand Rugby holding a Wahine Round is not only an acknowledgment of the players but also the mothers and grandmothers who look after the players' families.
Counties Manukau Heat captain Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu says it's great that the Farah Palmer Cup competition is promoted this way. She says if it wasn't for the doubleheaders, very few would have turned up to watch them play.
NZ Rugby figures show there were 27,838 registered female players this year, a 14% increase on last year, the biggest area of growth in that time.
Waikato lock Victoria Edmonds says "it's awesome to see such girls step out of their comfort zone from different codes give it a go." Edmonds says women's rugby as a whole is enjoying increased support, "because people are realising it's an actual standard, it's an actual rugby game that's challenging the men's standards and the professionalism of the whole thing."
While the 7s programme has been professional for several years now, the Black Ferns 15s side became professional this year. The next step is establishing a Women's Super Rugby competition, following Australia who launched their women's competition this year. While Edmonds says the idea is promising, "we need those development competitions to get stronger so we can feed through to that FPC level, to move it up to Super Rugby."
Meanwhile Demant, who made her Black Fern debut in the recent series against Australia, believes that the numbers of women playing the game needs to keep increasing for it to be effective, saying that if there was a Super Rugby competition created there won't be enough players left to play club rugby, and the Farah Palmer Cup.
Back to back double figure percentage increases, and the wave of success both the fifteen, and seven a side teams seemingly not yet breaking inspiring more young ladies to take part in rugby the sport should continue to grow, and in time there might be a Women's Super Rugby competition to rival that of the men.
Wahine Round results:
Bay of Plenty Volcanix 73 Taranaki Whio 0
Hawke's Bay Tui 52 North Harbour Hibiscus 10
Waikato 45 Auckland Storm 14
Otago Spirit 8 Counties Manukau Heat 39
Tasman Mako 3 Wellington Pride 88
Manawatū Cyclones 12 Canterbury 48