Seventeen Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 winners are among the 28 players handed the first Black Ferns contracts by New Zealand Rugby on 23 May. 

Among them is legendary hooker and World Cup winning captain Fiao’o Faamausili, who has put her retirement from international rugby on hold to bolster the experience among a squad combining experience with exciting new players.

“We are thrilled to offer Fi a contract. She is as fit as she’s ever been and is super passionate about being involved,” said coach Glenn Moore. 

“There are a number of new faces among those named and to have Fi’s skills and experience to call on will be invaluable. She also brings fantastic skills in her position and it’s an area we need to develop with newer players. She can help us with that.

“Among this squad are a number of very talented young players who have been working hard in their clubs and provincial unions. Our talent identification programme has helped us develop depth in our wider player pool and the Black Ferns’ performance at the World Cup has given players something to aspire to.”

“We have a Black Ferns training camp in mid-June when we’ll get a much better idea of how everyone is tracking. There’s also the possibility we’ll offer a contract to players outside of the initial contracted squad.”

There are two further contracted positions to be filled, while a further 20 women will be identified to make up a wider training squad. The non-contracted players will be part of a high-performance training programme designed to identify and develop the best female rugby talent.

Nurturing talent to achieve 

New Zealand Rugby’s Head of Women’s Rugby Cate Sexton said the signing of contracts, under the newly introduced Black Ferns Performance Programme, marked a significant moment in rugby and reflected the growing interest in women’s rugby in New Zealand as well as globally.

“We have a very talented pool of female players to select from and the pool is increasing every year. We want to make sure we nurture our talent and provide our best players with the training and support they need to achieve at the highest level. 

“These contracted players will receive a guaranteed retainer to train, assembly fees when they come together for Black Ferns camps and the medical and technical services they need as elite athletes.”

Sexton said girls and women were signing up to play in record numbers all around the country and it was the fastest growing area of rugby.

“It’s an exciting time for women’s rugby and I’m very proud we’ve taken the step forward to contract our female 15s players along with our sevens squad.”

The Black Ferns have three tests confirmed for this year with a two-test series against Australia in August for the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy, the matches forming double headers with the men’s Bledisloe Cup matches.

The world champions will then face USA in a triple header with the Maori All Blacks v USA Eagles and Ireland v Italy at Soldier Field in Chicago in November with additional tests still to be announced.

The contracts provide: 

  • Guaranteed retainer for one year (the Memorandum of Understanding with NZRPA is due for renegotiation in 2019)
  • Assembly fees if selected for Black Ferns training camps and fixtures (approximately 50 days/year in total)
  • Medical and life insurance, an opportunity to join the Player Savings Scheme and KiwiSaver
  • Technical, tactical, biomechanical, strength and conditioning programming, nutritional advice, medical and sports psychological support
  • 10-14 hours per week commitment required for rugby training. However, priority will be given to ensuring players can maintain their work and study while on the programme
  • Personal Development to assist in areas of career/education and work, finance and asset protection, character development, mental wellness and other professional rugby obligations and expectations
  • A Personal Development Manager will be allocated specifically to support the Black Ferns
  • Parental Policy for players returning to the programme from maternity leave
  • Remuneration for the players paid out of the Player Payment Pool agreed between NZR and the NZRPA under the existing Collective Employment Agreement (CEA)

Black Ferns 2018 contracted squad: Chelsea Alley, Ariana Bayler, Grace Brooker, Kendra Cocksedge, Krysten Cottrell, Ruahei Demant, Kilistina Moata'ane, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Kristina Sue, Renee Wickliffe, Selica Winiata, Eloise Blackwell, Les Elder (nee Ketu), Fiao'o Faamausili, Dhys Faleafaga, Harono Iringa, Aldora Itunu, Linda Itunu, Pip Love, Charmaine McMenamin, Toka Natua, Joanah Ngan Woo, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Aleisha Nelson, Marcelle Parkes, Leilani Perese , Aroha Savage, Charmaine Smith.