From the Chair and CEO
We are very happy to report that despite missing out on 20% of our Teams in Black Winning Pinnacle Events priority score due to the Rugby World Cup result, we achieved the rest of the activities that we had outlined, which is an excellent result across our teams in black. We recognise that alongside our players on the field, there is a full team of people right across NZR whose commitment and hard work allows them to perform at their best.
While we were disappointed to not make the Final of Rugby World Cup 2019, there was so much to be proud of in the way the team conducted themselves both on and off the field, embraced and respected the Japanese culture and focused on finishing the tournament strongly with a brilliant bronze medal performance against Wales.
The All Blacks secured the Bledisloe Cup for another year against Australia – the 17th consecutive year that the All Blacks have won the Cup.
The Black Ferns retained their number one ranking for another year, with victories in the Women’s Rugby Super Series as well as the O’Reilly Cup (formerly known as the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy). These Test matches provided the team with some challenging rugby as they begin their preparation toward Rugby World Cup 2021 on home soil.
Kendra Cocksedge became just the second Black Ferns player to reach the 50 Test match milestone this year and it was a great moment to see her presented with her silver cap by the Prime Minister at Eden Park after their O’Reilly Cup success.
Both of our sevens teams also had a very successful year, with Olympic qualification a highlight.
The All Blacks Sevens gained qualification when they advanced through to the quarterfinals on the 2019 London Sevens, which secured a top four finish in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Black Ferns Sevens qualified by securing a top four position in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series through winning the penultimate leg. The team went onto win their fifth World Sevens Series crown.
Our High Performance Referees also had a very successful 2019. Four of our referees were selected for World Rugby’s World Sevens Series Panel, with James Doleman, Richard Kelly, Emily Hsieh and Lauren Jenner celebrating selection. Paul Williams and Ben O’Keeffe were selected for Rugby World Cup, with highlights including Ben O’Keeffe’s officiating of the Scotland v Japan crunch match in the pool stages as well as assisting in the Final between England and South Africa. Brendon Pickerill and Ben Skeen also attended the tournament in the TMO seat.
While Rugby World Cup years tend to see higher numbers of our All Blacks departing New Zealand for cashed up overseas clubs, we were happy to meet our target for player retention in 2019. While we simply can’t financially compete with these clubs, we are concentrating on other opportunities and arrangements we can offer to keep our most talented players at home.