New Zealand cautious

WELLINGTON – Rugby powerhouse New Zealand is keen to leverage the success of its all-conquering Black Ferns to create an opportunity for women to make a living from the game but will not rush into the creation of a professional league until due diligence is done.

New Zealand players hailed Monday’s announcement of a landmark pay deal for the nation’s top women which will award playing retainers to 30 members of the world champion Black Ferns squad for the first time.

Although the deal does little to bridge the huge gender pay gap with the All Blacks, the global titans of the men’s game, it will give the country’s amateur women more hope of carving out a professional career in the rugby-mad country.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is studying the feasibility of a professional league above the Farah Palmer Cup, the peak amateur competition, which could provide another pathway to international level much as Super Rugby does for the All Blacks.

A proposal will be put to the NZR board in June, with a best-case scenario likely to push for the establishment of a pro league in 2019.

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