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Three uncapped players in Black Ferns squad to contest Pacific Four Series

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Rising halves Hannah King and Maia Joseph are among three uncapped players named in the Black Ferns squad to contest this month’s Pacific Four Series.

Blues lock Maama Vaipulu is also in line to play her first test during the three matches on home soil after the Black Ferns coaches announced a 30-woman squad they say was based on form in Super Rugby Aupiki.

The most notable omission is experienced lock Chelsea Bremner, the World Cup-winning and Chiefs Manawa lock who was included among a 40-strong group of contracted players.

Coach Allan Bunting has instead named Bremner’s younger sister Alana among his contingent of four locks. Alana Bremner has been a regular on the Black Ferns blindside flank in recent seasons.

A new face in the second row is Vaipulu, who stood out in her maiden season for the Blues and is one of 10 players selected from the Super Rugby Aupiki champions.

The 21-year-old is an accomplished volleyball player who stood out with her lineout prowess.

Bunting is looking to build his playmaking stocks by introducing Matatū halfback Maia Joseph and Hurricanes Poua first five-eighth Hannah King.

Joseph, 21, made her Super Rugby debut for Chiefs Manawa in 2022 before missing the following season with a knee injury.

Shifting south to study medicine at the University of Otago, Joseph shone this year on the field for Matatū and has chosen to put her studies on hold.

King, 20, also caught the coach’s eye with a bright campaign for the Hurricanes, having shifted from Christchurch to Wellington following two seasons of Farah Palmer Cup duty with Canterbury.

Blues tighthead prop Aldora Itunu earns her first Black Ferns call-up since 2021, while converted Matatū loosehead prop Marcelle Parkes and tenacious Hurricanes Poua midfielder Monica Tagoai return for the first time since 2019 and 2018 respectively.

Blues first five Ruahei Demant and Chiefs loose forward Kennedy Simon are once again named co-captains.

Black Ferns director of rugby Allan Bunting said the intense nature of the Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition had made for a competitive selection process.

“We are hugely excited by the squad we have selected for the Pacific Four series,” he said.

“We have seen these players perform strongly during Super Rugby Aupiki and their selection is credit to their consistent form across the competitive season.

“This series is extremely important for us, not only to provide an opportunity to expose our new players to the international stage, but to seek qualification up for the WXV1 tournament at the end of the year.”

Five players were listed as unavailable for selection – Ayesha Leti-I’iga (knee), Awhina Tangen Wainohu (neck), Joanah Ngan-Woo (ankle), Santo Taumata (knee), Sophie Fisher (neck).

The Black Ferns will open their season against the United States in Hamilton on 11 May.

They face Canada in Christchurch and Australia in Albany over subsequent weekends.

Black Ferns squad

Backs: Renee Holmes, Ruby Tui, Mererangi Paul, Katelyn Vahaakolo, Patricia Maliepo, Sylvia Brunt, Amy du Plessis, Grace Steinmetz, Monica Tagoai, Ruahei Demant (co-capt), Hannah King, Iritana Hohaia, Maia Joseph

Forwards: Kennedy Simon co-capt), Layla Sae, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Charmaine Smith, Maama Vaipulu, Alana Bremner, Kate Henwood, Chryss Viliko, Marcelle Parkes, Tanya Kalounivale, Amy Rule, Aldora Itunu, Luka Connor, Georgia Ponsonby, Leaso Grace Gago Tiatia.

Black Ferns Pacific Four Series schedule

v USA, 11 May, 2.05pm, Hamilton

v Canada, 19 May, 4.35pm, Christchurch

v Australia, 25 May, 2.05pm, Albany

Source: RNZ

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Sports

All Blacks win the first World Cup 20 June 1987 -NZ HISTROY

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With Michael Jones, John Kirwan and David Kirk scoring tries, the All Blacks defeated France 29–9 at Eden Park, Auckland. Kirk became the first captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

The first Rugby World Cup was hosted jointly by New Zealand and Australia. Rugby powerhouse South Africa was excluded because of an international sports boycott in opposition to its apartheid policies.

Winger Kirwan opened the tournament by running almost the length of the field, beating most of the Italian team to score a memorable try. The All Blacks won 70–6 before comfortably beating Fiji and Argentina. In the knockout phase, Scotland was defeated 30–3 and Wales 49–6.

The Webb Ellis Cup subsequently proved elusive. Despite usually heading the world rankings, the All Blacks did not win the trophy again until 2011, when New Zealand hosted the tournament. The final – a rematch of 1987 – was a near thing as the All Blacks hung on to win 8-7.

In 2015, the All Blacks became the first team to win consecutive titles and the first to win the cup three times.

NZ HISTROY

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Fiji thumps Samoa

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The Digicel Bula Boys clinched their second consecutive victory at the OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2024 Group B match, overpowering Samoa 9-1 at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.

A dominant second half performance saw the side score six goals.

Fiji was leading 3-nil at halftime.

Setareki Hughes, Roy Krishna and Etonia Dogalau starred for the national side, each scoring twice.

Filipe Baravilala and youngsters Thomas Dunn and Nabil Begg netted the other goals.

Scott Wara was shown a yellow card in the first half for the national side.

Samoa’s lone goal was scored by Andrew Setefano.

Fiji will face Tahiti at 7pm on Saturday

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Highlanders back Connor Garden-Bachop has died

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Highlanders and Māori All Blacks player Connor Garden-Bachop has died aged 25.

New Zealand Rugby confirmed his death and said Garden-Bachop died on Monday following a medical event.

Garden-Bachop made his Highlanders debut in 2021 and played five seasons with the franchise.

He played provincial rugby for both Canterbury and Wellington and attended Scots College in Wellington.

The Highlanders announced the departure of several players from the team for next year, including Garden-Bachop, last week.

Garden-Bachop then made a social media post thanking the Highlanders for an “unforgettable five years” at the Dunedin based franchise.

“Thank you to everyone in the south for making me feel at home, and thank you to the boys I have been honoured to share the field with, it’s been a pleasure, I will miss you all. Till next time #300.”

His father Stephen Bachop and uncle Graeme Bachop both played for the All Blacks, while his mother Sue Garden-Bachop, who died of cancer in 2009, played for the Black Ferns.

His brother Jackson Garden-Bachop played six seasons for the Hurricanes and currently plays for Brive in the French Top 14 competition.

‘United in our grief’

New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association released a statement confirming Garden-Bachop’s death.

“On behalf of the entire rugby community, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby, New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association would like to extend our deepest thoughts and love to the Garden-Bachop family.”

“Connor passed away on Monday following a medical event, and rugby’s collective focus at this time is on supporting his family. All of rugby walks alongside the Garden-Bachop family at this time and we are collectively united in our grief.

“Connor was a fantastic young player, an exciting New Zealand age-grade representative and a proud Māori All Black. Wherever he played, he was a committed and popular teammate with infectious energy and someone who could light up the room.

“Most importantly, he was a loving father to his twin girls, a brother, a son and immeasurably loved by all those who knew him.

NZR, the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, the Highlanders, Wellington Rugby and the Players Association are providing support and ask that the privacy of the Garden-Bachop family is respected.”

Source: RNZ

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