The historic first women’s rugby encounter between Super clubs the Blues and the Chiefs at Eden Park on Saturday has engendered much interest and expectation that it can act as a catalyst for a future professional competition.
Blues women’s assistant coach and IRB Hall of Fame member, Anna Richards believes such a competition could get underway as soon as next year, as a lead-up to the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, put back a year because of Covid.
While that big prize is in the future, this weekend the two sides are playing for individual and collective pride in the women’s game, and for the victor a new trophy, the Waipuea Women’s Rugby Taonga.
The trophy was unveiled in novel fashion by the nib Blues Women’s captain Eloise Blackwell and Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu high above the city and region on the Sky Tower.
The Blues have developed the trophy with its name from Wai (for Waikato, Waitemata water, river and sea) and Puea (for winds that carry korero – a conversation or meeting – over land, mountains and sea).
It depicts a journey from the mountain peak of Taranaki to the Waikato River through the Bombays and Manukau and Waitemata and on to Whangarei and then out to the world.
It is a Waha-ika – a fighting weapon with one side a blade and the other a hook to symbolise that women’s Super Rugby is only at the beginning of its journey.
“We are super-excited. The hype is there and you can see the excitement levels in training this week,” said Blackwell, who is also the Black Ferns captain.
“We know it is important to put on a spectacle to promote women’s rugby and hopefully a Women’s Super Rugby competition in the future.”
If that comes to fruition, then the Waipuea Women’s Rugby Taonga will be the trophy at stake when the nib Blues Women meet the Waitomo Chiefs Women.
Saturday’s game at Eden Park kicks off at 4.35pm, with the men’s Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Blues and Chiefs following at 7.05pm.