New Zealand Rugby apologises for ignorant IWD tribute: 'We didn't get it right'

·3-min read
New Zealand Rugby women's team the Black Ferns. (Getty Images)
The Black Ferns were left out of the men's New Zealand Rugby International Women's Day tribute. (Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby has apologised for its International Women's Day tweet made from the All Blacks men's team account, which portrayed an archaic view of women and left the world-champion women's team out entirely.

The post read, "Forever grateful to all the women in our lives that allow us to play the game we love. Partners, mothers, daughters, doctors, physios, referees, administrators and fans. Appreciate you every day."

This was accompanied with images of male players – including Sevu Reece who pleaded guilty to assaulting his female partner in 2018 – with female family members and loved ones, seen to be supporting them from the sidelines.

A spokesperson for New Zealand Rugby said, "We didn't get it right and we apologise.

"NZR and our Teams in Black celebrated International Women's Day across all of our digital channels and our intent was to portray the many roles women have in our game."

New Zealand's women's team the Black Ferns made their own IWD post, dedicated to female role models who inspire them, which reads, "While our female athletes continue to inspire so many wāhine [women] around Aotearoa & the world, we find out who inspires some of them to be the people & players they are."

However, the team nor any of its players were mentioned in the All Blacks post as women who might inspire them.

Nevertheless, NZR added, "our entire rugby whānau [community or family] are so proud of our Black Ferns and all our wāhine [women], in everything that they do on and off the pitch.”

Former England star and World Cup winner Kat Merchant, addressed the All Blacks post, pointing out what was so obviously wrong with the tweet on many accounts. "Why is #InternationalWomensDay needed? This right here," she wrote.

"Black Ferns are current world champions yet this post chose to ignore their existence and instead thank the women who 'allow' men to play.

"Also they used a player who has plead guilty to domestic abuse #dobetter."

Sevu was discharged without conviction and went on to win his first cap for the All Blacks in 2019.

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As well as winning the Women's Rugby World Cup a record five times, the Black Ferns won gold at the Tokyo Olympics sevens last year.

Wasps and Wales rugby player Florence Williams echoed the outrage with, "How not to celebrate IWD from a male sport ally. Patronising. Female stereotyping to the max 'allow us to play'.

"It's not enough to acknowledge women, but understand the barriers and oppression, not aggravate it."

Ireland hockey player Shirley McCay also tweeted, "Allow you to play the game you love… Goodness me. There's so much wrong with this it's almost as if it's a parody account."