Almanack highlights rise of women’s rugby

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Campbell Burnes     13 Mar 2019     Getty Images

That was none other than Black Ferns Rugby World Cup-winning skipper Fiao’o Faamausili, now retired. The Almanack women’s section was expanded to 82 pages, up from 61 the previous year.

The 2019 Almanack hit this desk with a reassuring thud some two weeks ago. On the cover is NZ Rugby player of the year Kendra Cocksedge. Her elevation to this lofty status was richly deserved and highlights the importance the Almanack has given to the continued rise of women’s rugby. She is now more than 400 points clear as the most prolific scorer of points in New Zealand women’s first-class history.

Co-editor Clive Akers has always been a strong advocate of the women’s game and he and his co-editors Geoff Miller and Adrian Hill have expanded the women’s section to 87 pages. Melodie Robinson has given a comprehensive review of the 2018 women’s season and the Women’s Almanack XV closely follows that of the Black Ferns selectors with the notable addition of Black Ferns Sevens stars Sarah Goss (now Hirini), Kelly Brazier and Portia Woodman. Stacey Waaka turned out for both national teams in 2018.

Goss and Cocksedge, quite rightly, are named as players of the year.
The detailed statistical section shows that the Black Ferns have lost just 11 internationals since 1991, a record of which to be immensely proud. All 12 of the Farah Palmer Cup provinces have their seasons detailed and all the numbers that matter on the Black Ferns Sevens, the nation’s best rugby team, are included.

It is critical to note that the Black Ferns have not just been successful in recent times. They won their first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1998 and if you want a statistical example of their dominance in the late 1990s, look no further than Vanessa Cootes. She scored an extraordinary 43 tries in 16 Tests. Beat that, Rieko Ioane.