Rugby doesn’t deserve to be New Zealand’s national sport, equality or not

Is rugby New Zealand’s national sport? A few decades ago it was the dominant sport, but the diversity of sporting codes and much wider preferences have changed that a lot.

I grew up loving rugby. I played and then refereed and then played again until I was about 42 or so.  There was a time that I felt like I was really missing out on something if I missed seeing a test match live on TV.

But now there is so much rugby, and so much sport, I usually don’t care much whether I see tests or not.

Back to whether it can be called New Zealand’s ‘national sport’. I don’t think the term really means very much.

For different reasons Jacinda Ardern seems to think that rugby doesn’t deserve to be our national sport.

RNZ:  Rugby needs to be more inclusive to ‘deserve’ title of national sport – PM

Rugby needs to be more inclusive, particularly of women, to be fully deserving of the title of New Zealand’s national sport, the Prime Minister says.

Talking to a packed conference room at New Zealand Rugby’s first ever Women in Governance Conference in central Auckland this morning, Jacinda Ardern said rugby needs to “be a game for everyone, and that includes women”.

“For me if rugby is going to include us as women it should represent us equally, and have a relationship with us equally, both as players and spectators, and that means, as it does with every area of life, including women fairly, giving women the opportunity to excel, paying them appropriately, and providing leadership opportunities,” Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern said, when asked for clarification, she believed rugby does currently deserve to be called New Zealand’s national sport, ” but with that title we need to make sure we’re striving to lift the outcomes for women in sport as well”.

Quite a confusing message there.

“If rugby is going to include us as women it should represent us equally” – what? I have no idea how that could happen, let alone be measured.

“Have a relationship with us equally” – that’s just nuts. Every one of us should be able to decide for ourselves what sort of ‘relationship” we have with rugby or with any sport. Equal relationships can’t be defined let alone forced on us.

Some people simply don’t like rugby – people even say they hate it. That’s their choice. It would be ridiculous expecting them to have an ‘equal’ relationship with any sport to everyone else.

She was at the conference, articulating her vision for sporting gender equality, ahead of the Black Ferns and All Blacks double header against Australia at Eden Park tonight.

They can’t both play at an equal time.

They can’t be given equal games – there are far more men’s national teams, it’s a much stronger sport. I don’t expect men’s netball to be given equal money or coverage or prominence as women’s netball.

I’m all for giving more prominence to women’s rugby (and more money and resources to players). I enjoy watching women’s 15-a-side, and especially women’s sevens. I enjoy the latter at least as much as men’s sevens (but can’t say if that’s equal or not, it depends on each performance).

I think I get what Ardern is angling at, but for me “if rugby is going to include us as women it should represent us equally, and have a relationship with us equally” is just garbled nonsense.

However I don’t think we are risk of being forced to watch equal amounts of women’s and men’s rugby and promising to clap and cheer equally.

Leave a comment


  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  25th August 2018

    Given the danger of head injuries in rugby (not to mention the other injuries) I can’t even begin to imagine why women want to play it.I don’t watch it, never have and never will. I find it excruciatingly boring.

    I don’t think that any beginner’s team in any sport should be handed the privileges of the people who have been playing it for many years and made a name for themselves.

    Jacinda Ardern should stick to what she knows and not make an idiot of herself with this 70s time warp babble.She’s treating women like children.

    • Women’s rugby has improved a lot in the last few years, especially sevens (where head injuries are much less a risk).

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  25th August 2018

        I still find it utterly boring.

        People are seeing sexism in not having buses for the women’s matches.

    • NOEL

       /  25th August 2018

      Ahh the smell of rat traps at two in the morning before turning on the radio. Maybe that’s got something to do with it? Two senses today instead of one and a lot of imagination.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  25th August 2018

    Thank heavens she is just giving a speech and not running the country.

  3. Just watched the Black Ferns do a haka – a very good effort.

    I hardly ever watch the All Blacks do their haka.

    • Gezza

       /  25th August 2018

      Black Ferns Spine Chilling Haka for Jacinda


      All Blacks Bledisloe 1 Haka

      (Not bad, seen ’em do better)

      Black Ferns 2018 World Cup Sevens Haka

      (Pretty cool)

  4. lurcher1948

     /  25th August 2018

    PG take a deep breath and have a whiskey, ARE YOU LOSING YOUR MOJO??????

  5. Trevors_elbow

     /  25th August 2018

    What twaddle from Jacinda.

    Womans International rugby of the real variety, ie 15s, is of a standard with Heartland 2nd division rugby in the main,m of that. It’s ok to watch but I wouldn’t pay for it. I reckon a top men’s club team would deal to the Black Ferns.

    Same with Womans football and many other sports.

    Womans sport just lacks the speed and power of mens sport.

    Play sport if you love it. Cool with that … any sport you like. Be good at it… I’ll admire that, the demonstration of commitment and skill…

    But dont have this meme that men have to respect you for your sporting ability… because equality.

    Nowhere is equality blown away more than on the sporting field. Sport produces winners and losers. And outcomes are measurable in terms of performance

    If you want to see why the All Blacks get paid ladies… look at attendance and ratings… people vote their cash dollars on the value they see in the product… and Womans rugby is not in the same market place, not even close.

    More Socialist Equality kant that doesn’t stand up to real life observation….

    • Pink David

       /  25th August 2018

      “I reckon a top men’s club team would deal to the Black Ferns.”

      A top men’s club would destroy the Black Ferns. They might have a chance against a 2nd string, junior, high school team.

  6. Blazer

     /  25th August 2018

    Yeah good onya Trev…don’t know about these sheilas havin a go Trev..better off in the kitchen I reckon.

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  26th August 2018

      Where did I say dont have a go fool? Dont try and change what I said bol….

      Jacinda is following Grants meme of equal pay. My argument is womans rugby is a poor imitation of the real thing from a product point of view and therefore not worthy of the same rewards.

      They want to play. Great go for it. But the government should but out of the rewards for the top end of the game as the woman game is poor from a skill and competition viewpoint compared to the men’s game. Hence why few attend the games….

      Market value discussion bol… not your pathetic attempt at making it an identity politics discussion

      You truly are tribal shill of the first order

  7. Again I understand what she is trying to say, but again too much over the top generalising.

    Most young people won’t have watched the game.

  8. PDB

     /  25th August 2018

    I agree with Ardern – make it a totally even playing field by getting rid of dedicated women’s and men’s teams and just pick the best players in the country to represent New Zealand. Job done.

  9. artcroft

     /  25th August 2018

    This isn’t about rugby, it’s about compelling equal outcomes in all areas of human endeavour. Check out Jordan Petersen on this. Your speech, business, hobby group, lifestyle and religion are all going to have to conform to the vision of Jacinda. Your career choices will be curtailed or advanced according to your political identity. What b**s**t.

  10. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  25th August 2018

    Does it mean that the women will have to pump themselves full of steroids so they equal the guys in buff beefiness?

    • Pink David

       /  25th August 2018

      Even with the finest East German steroids, women cannot match men for strength and speed.

  11. Pink David

     /  25th August 2018

    “She was at the conference, articulating her vision for sporting gender equality”

    This can only be achieved by making men’s teams only play women’s teams. That way there are an equal number of men and women on the field at once, hence equality is achieved.

    I’m sure that’s what her vision is.

  12. Strong For Life

     /  25th August 2018

    If she thinks this… why was she at the game tonight? Another photo op!!

    • duperez

       /  26th August 2018

      Why was she at the game? Because she was invited? Because there was a men’s game as well as a women’s game? Just up the road? And she got free tickets? To a good seat? And it’s what civic leaders do? And it was a photo op?

  1. Less than a third of Cabinet are female | Your NZ

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