28 Aug 2017

Professional contracts a long way off for Black Ferns

10:51 am on 28 August 2017

There'll be no professional contracts for New Zealand women rugby players anytime soon, the New Zealand Rugby Union says.

Black Ferns celebrate their World Cup final win over England.

The Black Ferns celebrate their World Cup win over defending champions England on Sunday - the fifth time they've won the title. Photo: Photosport

The Black Ferns' fifth World Cup victory on Sunday has led to renewed calls for women players in the national side to have professional contracts and wages like their male counterparts.

The England side that they beat for the title did have professional contracts in the lead-up to the World Cup, but those have now lapsed. The English rugby bosses have opted to focus on the Sevens Olympic programme and are now offering contracts for the shorter format of the game.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said there were not enough competitions to sustain full-time professional careers for women rugby players comparable to those for the All Blacks.

"One of the advantages they have in the northern hemisphere is there competition is close at hand ... so they can play Six Nations," he told Morning Report.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.

Steve Tew Photo: Photosport

"The nearest competition we've got is Australia and right now they're not as competitive as we'd like them to be, so we have had to spend a lot of money over the last 24 months getting our team the right game preparation, which has been against England, Canada and Australia.

"So, a lot of money invested in the programme, as opposed to the players, because quite frankly right now there's not a full-time programme to contract them to."

"Even if we found the money, what would our women do all the time because there is no one to play on a full-time basis," he said.

Asked whether he was comfortable with top-flight All Blacks becoming millionaires while the Black Ferns had to work part-time jobs, Tew acknowledged it was a fair comparison.

"The nice thing about this victory is that it has brought the conversation up into the public profile.

"It's not isolated to women's rugby, it's a matter for a lot of our sports - a lot of our Olympians go away uncontracted making big sacrifices.

"The difference we've got [in rugby] is that we compare it to our men's game and we are very conscious of that debate and we'll be keeping having it, and we have got some very strong advocates inside our organisation that raise all those very valid points.

"We have ambitions for our women's game," he said. "It is the fastest growing part of rugby in this country."

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