New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have been condemned by sporting fans around the country after a "disgraceful" move that pits their men's team up against the country's women's rugby side.
Leaders in New Zealand are up in arms over the scheduling conflict that will see an All Blacks Test match clash with a Black Ferns World Cup match this weekend.
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On Saturday, the national men's rugby side take on Japan at 4.50pm AEDT in what is the All Blacks' first match of their northern tour.
Less than one hour later, however, the national women's rugby side go up against Wales in their crunch Women's Rugby World Cup quarter-final showdown in Whangarei.
In effect, NZR have put the Black Ferns in the shade of the mighty All Blacks by allowing the unfortunate scheduling dilemma to go ahead.
Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the clash between the men's and women's sides was "really unfortunate" and that the Black Ferns, gunning for a World Cup on home soil, deserved clear air.
"I do expect better from New Zealand Rugby than that. This is a major international tournament that we're hosting," he said.
"I really do think everything should have been done to avoid that."
NZR admitted in a statement released on Wednesday that it did not understand the Women's Rugby World Cup rules before it agreed on the timing of its Test match against Japan.
"When Japan Rugby set the kick-off time for the All Blacks Test, NZR did not take into account ... that the host nation would play in the quarter-final two timeslot," their statement read.
NZR under fire over scheduling conflict
However, Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan took the acting PM's criticism one step further by describing the clash a "disgraceful" scenario for New Zealand sporting fans.
"I'll be supporting our Black Ferns this weekend in Whangarei. But NZ Rugby, this clash was avoidable, and frankly, disgraceful," she wrote.
Deputy opposition leader Nicola Willis told Newstalk ZB it was "sloppy and a wasted opportunity".
The controversy has prompted a wave of backlash against NZR on social media, with many throwing their support behind the Black Ferns.
I’ll be supporting our @BlackFerns this weekend in Whangarei. But @NZRugby, this clash was avoidable, and frankly, disgraceful. For tips on how to plan a world standard womens World Cup, suggest you take some tips from @FIFAWorldCup who set the standard last w/e w their draw. pic.twitter.com/rlpHosgXuO
— Kiri Allan (@KiriAllan) October 26, 2022
Riddle me this, how did the NZRU not know they set a Black Ferns match at almost exactly the same time as an All Black game? It's pathetic. Get with the times. I'll be watching the Black Ferns live, might record the All Blacks, whatever.
— Fox³ (@FoxyLustyGrover) October 26, 2022
Completely embarrassing. NZ Rugby dismissing the women yet again 🤦🏻♂️ https://t.co/UdtQE5JREi
— James Thompson (@JayT0989) October 26, 2022
Cabinet minister not pulling punches on NZ Rugby's scheduling screw-up, and fair enough too - how on earth did nobody there look at the schedules and realise there was going to be a problem?! https://t.co/fLTud0wf7H
— Sam Sachdeva (@SamSachdevaNZ) October 26, 2022
It is absolute 🤡🚗 stuff from NZ Rugby, hosting a major international tournament and forgetting their team is playing a knockout game and arranging a dumb friendly for their other team. https://t.co/0jchuyE64Q
— Country Dude (Eerie) (@country_dude_) October 26, 2022
Ladies and gentlemen that is what you would call stupidity from @NZRugby.
Let's hope this kind of thing doesn't happen again or else it'll be a total clusterfuck and not stupidity. https://t.co/MEPSVPTbiS
— Damien "Damo" Service 🇳🇿 (@DamienService) October 26, 2022
Further evidence of New Zealand Rugby's inability to care about the Black Ferns even one iota ... their website hasn't been updated to show the World Cup quarter-final on home soil.
A World Cup quarter-final. https://t.co/bwXOZgiaZY pic.twitter.com/QRNGfiftDX
— Ben McKay (@benmackey) October 26, 2022
NZR is often criticised for failing to invest or support women in rugby.
Earlier this year, they lost $NZ280,000 ($A250,000) of government support as the only sport not to meet a requirement of having 40 per cent women on their board.
They have been savaged for their failure to promote the Black Ferns during the New Zealand-hosted Women's World Cup, which is run by global governing body World Rugby, this month.
On the eve of the tournament, NZR announced it had invested in 33 non-fungible tokens, "in a show of support for the Black Ferns", a move that was derided online.
"Why not just burn a big pile of money in front of the Black Ferns instead?" one Twitter user wrote.
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