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Eye To Eye Tackles Women's Rugby

Eye To Eye Tackles Women's Rugby

The New Zealand Rugby Union is stacked with too many white middle aged men and needs to do more about supporting women's rugby, says former Black Fern and Silver Fern player Louisa Wall.

"There is no-one representing women's rugby at NZRU level. The Black Ferns won three consecutive World Cups something that no other team has ever done that at any level. It's an exclusive network," said Wall.

Wall and fellow former Black Fern turned sports broadcaster Melodie Robinson go head to head with sports agent Phil Kingsley-Jones and well known sports commentator and broadcaster Clint Brown on Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson, to discuss the nation's favourite game.

"The IRB are as committed to women's rugby as anything else. At international level they're very committed to women's rugby. I love rugby, always have, but rugby has to look at the infrastructure and the game," she said.

Despite the misconception that women's rugby doesn't get a fair go because half the team is gay and the other half are beauty queens, Wall says it actually boils down to economics.

"Sport needs to survive because government funding isn't there, so there has to be a sponsor prepared to get behind it. I don't think the NZRU has a women's rugby strategy," Wall said.

Clint Brown says it's fantastic the Black Ferns have dominated women's rugby internationally but at the end of the day sponsors react to what the punters want to watch.

"Just because a lady plays contact sports doesn't mean she's gay. Rugby is a man's sport and will always be a man's sport. Getting people to watch it is another story," he said.

Brown says the recent foray of experienced sportswomen like Jenny May Coffin and Melodie Robinson in to the male dominated area of sports commentating and broadcasting is positive.

"I think they're doing a fine job. It helps that they can talk and have something to say," he said.

When it comes to All Black rugby, Melodie Robinson has plenty to say despite adverse publicity.

"I'm totally positive about the All Blacks, despite the doom and gloom rolled about by the media. If you go to the All Blacks' training sessions, they're happy with the way things are going and with themselves," said Robinson.

Robinson says the view that Pacific Islander players are squeezing out Maori players at top level was rubbish.

"I don't get in to that argument. If they are better then that's the way it is. It's up to Maori to stay competitive. It's more about style than race," she said.

And it's that Polynesian style of rugby we're likely to see when the All Blacks take on the Wallabies tomorrow night.

"They have immense genetic talent. Pacific Islanders are dominating the landscape but it's not a bad thing, not if you want to win," she said.

Jonah Lomu's former agent Phil Kingsley Jones agrees. He says tomorrow night's game is crucial to how the All Blacks shape up for the impending World Cup.

"We'll see the All Blacks pretty fired up on Saturday night. A defeat to the Aussies will get them going despite what they say. We’ve always been capable of winning the World Cup but it’s just that our attitude affects the team. It’s a mental thing," said Kingsley Jones.

For another riveting and entertaining half hour of current affairs from a Maori perspective, tune in to this week's Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson on the nation's favourite sport, Saturday at 930am on TV1.

If you miss Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson on Saturday morning you can view it on our website by going to: www.frontofthebox.co.nz, or you can catch the repeat of Eye to Eye on Maori Television Saturday at 9pm (if you aren't watching the rugby that is!)


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