14 Jan 2021

Chantal Bakersmith: Woman's rugby turns pro

From Summer Times with Emile Donovan , 9:30 am on 14 January 2021

Rugby is our national sport - but usually it's male players who get the fanfare.

New Zealand's female players deserve more attention, respect and resources, says Auckland Rugby's Club Capability Manager Chantal Bakersmith.

She hopes her upcoming oral-history project about the history of women's rugby in NZ will help settle the score.

The Black Ferns Sevens celebrate their 2018 World Cup triumph.

The Black Ferns Sevens celebrate their 2018 World Cup triumph. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

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Photo: Supplied

Back in 1998 when Chantal started playing club rugby for Ponsonby as a high school student, there weren't jobs for women in rugby, she says.

But since then she's been able to carve out a career in the sport by being passionate about the game.

Her upcoming oral history project The Tale of the Rugby Ball and Me, will explore the provincial origins of women's rugby in this country and also exploring the sport's transition from amateur to professional.

Men and women are different so men's and women's rugby is different, Chantal says.

"If you have a [women's rugby] tournament, teams will stay around and watch other teams and support each other. It's a lot more fun and the girls will have a good laugh, they love to dance, they love to play music. It's a bit more free."

Chantal hopes New Zealand's national women's rugby team the Black Ferns get their due at the Rugby World Cup in Auckland this September.

"What resources are going to be put into the prematch games? [And will it be] the same amount of attention put into a great experience for our wāhine, the same as for tāne? Usually its not. It's an afterthought."

Chantal encourages New Zealanders to get behind the Black Ferns by buying tickets to see them at the Rugby World Cup.

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