Rugby is a religion in New Zealand and no one is left untouched by its wonderful presence.
Women in Rugby
New Zealand women’s rugby, though not as developed, has been more successful than their male counterpart. “Rugby is for love” I have heard so many of them say, which implies that they play the sport for the love of it and not for eventual glory and the money that comes from representation but that only the top get to taste. These women are unstoppable! Most of them representing at the top levels are in their 30s, an age where women in India give up sports to support their children and families. It was only after coming to New Zealand that I realised that my journey at 26 had not even commenced yet and that I could potentially play even after crossing 40. This was truly an eye-opener for me and made me rethink my life goals. The rugby women’s love for the game is apparent as they play through injuries, motherhood, sickness and age.
“It’s all mental”, said one of them who has dislocated her shoulder almost 21 times now and still straps up to play just because she cannot wait on the sidelines and watch. It is truly inspiring!
Team a.k.a. Family a.k.a. Whānau
In New Zealand, your teammates are your ‘sisters’ and the team is your ‘family’, right from a club level to the elite Black Ferns. This concept of ‘team’ though very unusual, especially in a competitive environment where each one is competing with the other for their place on the team, is seen to work beautifully in New Zealand. The sense of family and belonging strengthens the bond for the sport and even though I did not get the chance to make it to the representative side of my club and Auckland, it makes me want to go back and play just to be able to share that sense of sisterhood with the others. Maybe it is this socially driven structure of the sport that could be the key for how New Zealand performs at the top levels. What an absolute treat to be a part of it all!
If you have a rugby dream, there is nothing better than experiencing New Zealand rugby – apply for your visas and book your tickets now.
Look out for Ketaki's next blog post where she shares more insights on women in sport in New Zealand.