NZ Rugby

Robbie Deans reveals he is 'anxious' about rugby's direction in NZ, Australia

All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick, Springbok Malcolm Marx and Wallaby Samu Kerevi, among many others, will ply their trade in Japan's domestic competition this year, before it turns fully professional in 2022.

Foreign coaches such as Robbie Deans (ex Crusaders), Todd Blackadder (ex Crusaders) and Frans Ludeke (ex Bulls) are also passing on their intellectual property, but even as they forge ahead in Japan they keep an eye on rugby's direction in their own countries – and there are concerns.

Sony-backed Whisper makes its move in NZ with an eye on the All Blacks

In the middle of the year, the 40-year-old Aucklander will return home after more than a decade in the UK, with wife Olivia and young sons Teddy (2) and Toby (4 months) on board for the adventure.

And when he settles back into life in Aotearoa, the fast-changing sport, media and entertainment landscape could also be in for a serious shake-up.

Gemmell will head up the Auckland office of Whisper, the production company that Spark Sport recruited to produce its coverage of the Black Caps in the deal with NZ Cricket. But Whisper sees that as only the first step.

Former All Black and Tukapa 'legend' Ash Gardiner dies aged 74

Gardiner, a tight head prop, played 11 games, including one test, for the All Blacks in 1974, touring Australia and Ireland. His test cap came against Australia in Sydney.

Gardiner died in New Plymouth on Monday, January 18, aged 74.

Taranaki Rugby chief executive Laurence Corlett said he first met Gardiner in 2005.

‘’He was a big powerful man. Loved a beer, loved a chat.’’

He played 102 games for Taranaki, Corlett said.

“A great guy. He epitomised everything that is good about rugby in Taranaki.’’

Rugby ace Anna Richards on Black Ferns' career: 'It was for love, not money'

Instead, she lodged it in her bank account. And there it has stayed.

Richards, one of New Zealand’s greatest female rugby players, recalls the momentous moment she was told she would be compensated for sacrificing time to attend a training camp.

Then the cash rolled in.

“The first time I got paid by the NZRFU (as NZ Rugby was previously known) was, I think, in ‘92 or ‘93, at a regional camp, and I was paid $5 a day for a three-day camp,’’ Richards recalled.

“I actually banked that money, and I think it is still there. That is actually a true story.’’

New Zealand Rugby awards contenders announced

The other nominees are hooker Dane Coles and halfback Aaron Smith.

The nominees for Black Ferns player of the year are Chelsea Alley, Kendra Cocksedge and Kennedy Simon.

Aaron Smith is also in the running for the Tom French Memorial Māori Rugby Player of the Year, as is Māori All Blacks Captain and hooker Ash Dixon and World Sevens Series winner midfielder Stacey Fluhler.

A breakthrough season for Fluhler also sees her a nominee for Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year, along with playmaker Kelly Brazier and halfback Tyla Nathan-Wong.

Pacific Super Rugby bids have work to do - NZ Rugby

Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua are NZR's "preferred partners" to join the new-look competition, alongside the existing five teams from New Zealand and five from Australia.

But NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said the respective bids still had to finalise how they would be structured, their business/financial models and what their potential playing rosters and facilities would look like.

New Zealanders scoop player of the decade awards

World Rugby decided not to hold any Player of the Year Awards this year, instead holding a virtual Decade of the Year Awards voted for by fans and an international panel.

Former All Black captain McCaw was named fifteen's player of the decade while Woodman was named women's sevens player of the decade.

Woodman won three awards including sevens' try of the decade and was also named in the fifteen's team of the decade.

McCaw headed off a cast of stars including fellow New Zealanders Dan Carter, Brodie Retallick, Kieran Read and Beauden Barrett for his honour.

Five years on: Jonah Lomu's widow's insides 'crushed beyond repair'

Nadene Lomu posted a heartfelt message on social media on Wednesday, saying her “insides are hurting and crushed beyond repair”.

Lomu, 40, died unexpectedly at his Auckland home on November 18, 2015 of a heart attack, which was linked to his rare kidney disorder.

The giant wing had not long returned from Dubai, where he had been holidaying after the Rugby World Cup in the UK, when he collapsed and couldn't be resuscitated.

Sir Bryan Williams urges NZ Rugby to rethink snub of Pasifika team for 2021 Super Rugby

NZR chair Brent Impey this week confirmed the 2021 competition will be like the five-team Super Rugby Aotearoa format and not feature interested parties which bid to be included along with the Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes.

One of those was Moana Pasifika, an Auckland-based bid supported by prominent Pasifika leaders and rugby figures including Williams, who believes it’s a wonderful opportunity to enhance Pasifika rugby after being “left out in the cold” by NZR when the game turned professional in 1995.

Super Rugby Aotearoa back for 2021

New Zealand set up Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020 for its five professional franchises after the broader Super Rugby championship was abandoned due to Covid-19.

New Zealand Rugby had hoped to include a team from the Pacific islands for next year's tournament and invited expressions of interest from Australia.

However, its chairman Brett Impey said the pandemic had shelved those plans and "forced" the organisation to think domestically again next year.

"The last thing we want is for any team to come in and get smashed," Impey said.