5 Nov 2017

Rugby not alone in gender pay gap

4:23 pm on 5 November 2017

New Zealand Rugby won't be the only organisation looking at ways to bridge the pay gap between male and female athletes, the new Minister for Sport and Recreation says.

Black Ferns flying home triumphant after beating England: RNZ Checkpoint

Black Ferns triumphant after beating England in the World Cup final. Photo: RNZ / YouTube

New Zealand Rugby has confirmed it will discuss the Black Ferns' pay with the Rugby Players Association.

The difference in earnings between the All Blacks and their female counterparts - who earn nothing - came into the spotlight when the Black Ferns won their fifth World Cup title in August.

The current men's world champions, the All Blacks, have won their cup three times.

The minister, Grant Robertson, said there had been growth in the quality of the women's game and interest from the public.

It was great New Zealand Rugby was looking at the issue but it would take some time for the pay gap between men and women rugby players to close, Mr Robertson said.

Addressing the pay gap was a journey a lot of different sporting codes were on and the rugby union was not alone in having to look seriously at the issue, he said.

"We want to see a series of games for elite [female] rugby players that will help drive the revenue and help them get paid.

"We want them to stay world champs and in order to make that happen we've got to do everything we can to support them."

Sevens rugby's inclusion in the Olympics had helped to improve the pay gap for that code, but not so with the traditional game.

"I think for the 15-a-side game there is some distance to go - let's see the competitions that they play in develop and then obviously from there there's the possibility of seeing more pay."

Mr Robertson said he was keen to talk to New Zealand Rugby to find out how he could support it as it considered paying women players.

Women's rugby growing

Nearly one in six rugby players in New Zealand are female, up more than 10 percent from last year, with the biggest growth among younger girls.

New Zealand Rugby said nearly 17,000 of the more than 24,000 girls and women who play rugby were in the 5-to-12 age bracket.

Its head of Women's Rugby Development, Cate Sexton, said the Black Ferns recent World Cup win had helped to spark interest.

Many of the players had travelled around the country following the World Cup, she said.

"I think that's where you touch communities and they see real value in getting involved in a community sport like rugby and how that can really empower young girls to be a part of something very special," she said.

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