August 14, 2022

‘We didn’t get it right and we apologise’

New Zealand’s rugby team have apologised for a social media post celebrating International Women’s Day after they received huge backlash for their message, which was described as ‘tone deaf’.

The All Blacks posted a series of pictures of first-team squad members alongside women in their lives, which was captioned: “Forever grateful to all the women in our lives that allow us to play the game we love. Partners, mothers, daughters, doctors, physios, referees, administrators and fans. Appreciate you every day.”

However the post was widely criticised after it featured winger Sevu Reece and scrum-half, Aaron Smith.

In 2018, Reece admitted to one count of assault after he injured his partner while drunk on a street in Hamilton, New Zealand, but was discharged without conviction after the judge ruled there were mitigating factors.

In 2017, Smith was suspended by the All Blacks after he lied about being involved in an affair.

There was also criticism for the lack of acknowledgement to the New Zealand women’s rugby team – also known as the Black Ferns – one of the most successful nations in women’s rugby.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday, the All Blacks explained that they wanted to use their different social platforms to show the variety of roles women have in the game, but admitted they had got their message wrong.

They said: “NZR and our Teams in Black celebrated International Women’s Day across all of our digital channels and our intent was to portray the many roles women have in our game.

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“We didn’t get it right and we apologise – our entire rugby whānau are so proud of our Black Ferns and all our wāhine, in everything that they do on and off the pitch.”

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