New Zealand rugby have apologized for a tweet marking International Women’s Day that failed to acknowledge world champion Black Ferns.
The tweet, on the official All Blacks Twitter account, featured a photo of Fijian-born flier Sevu Reece, who pleaded guilty to assaulting his female partner in 2018.
The caption read: “Forever grateful to all the women in our lives who allow us to play the game we love. Partners, mothers, daughters, doctors, physios, referees, administrators and fans. I appreciate you every day.”
He drew criticism as ‘tone deaf’ for failing to mention the Black Ferns, who have won the Women’s Rugby World Cup a record five times, and thus relegating women to a supporting role, while featuring a male player who assaulted his partner. .
Reece was released without a conviction after a judge ruled there were mitigating factors in the case.
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“NZR and our teams in black celebrated International Women’s Day across all of our digital channels and our intention was to portray the many roles that women play in our game,” an NZR spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“We didn’t quite understand and we apologize for that – all of our rugby whānau are so proud of our Black Ferns and all of our wāhine, in everything they do on and off the pitch.”
The original tweet sparked an immediate reaction on social media, with some users calling it “deaf of ears” and urging the All Blacks social media team to take it down. The post was still on Twitter after the apology was posted.
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“You have an INCREDIBLE female team to support – why are you focusing on the male support system instead,” Stella Mills asked.
“Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate our wonderful men, because they are not recognized enough,” wrote Will Owen, with a hint of sarcasm.
Former England international Kat Merchant joined the chorus of critics, writing: “The Black Ferns are the current world champions but this post has chosen to ignore their existence [sic] and rather thank the women who “allow” the men to play. They also used a player who pleaded [sic] guilty of domestic violence.”
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“The Black Ferns are 5 time world champions. It would have been a wonderful opportunity to support them. But no, they decided it was best to only talk about women helping men succeed,” the user added. from Twitter Kay.
“Imagine writing this post for International Women’s Day, not including a single Black Fern, and instead Sevu Reece,” Hugo Gordon said.
“Awks. I didn’t feel like supporting your women’s team,” said former England cricketer Sarah Taylor.
“This is probably the dumbest tweet I think I’ve ever seen,” @JackBish13 wrote. “To include Sevu Reece in an article on International Women’s Day and not post anything about black ferns.”
“I don’t know where to start. Basically ‘the women are there to support the men’ rather than succeeding on their own, like, idk, in women’s rugby so disconnected!”, added @John71381259.
The Black Ferns shared their own International Women’s Day message from their official Twitter account, featuring photos of captain Les Elder, Maia Roos, Michaela Blyde and Niall Williams.
The Black Ferns shared stories of women in their lives who inspire them “to be the people and the players that they are.”
Several Fougères Noires were contacted by Stuff yesterday but would not comment.
In 2019, then All Blacks manager Steve Hansen said NZ Rugby was working hard with Reece and others in top-flight rugby around domestic abuse.
“He came into a Crusader environment where they put a lot of things around him that helped educate him, they helped him understand that to be a good person you have to do certain things, and in doing that he showed a lot of remorse for what he did,” Hansen said in 2019.
“He’s actively trying to improve and also when he comes into our environment we already have a policy that better people make better All Blacks so we carry on with every individual we have.”
Tuesday’s All Blacks post also included a picture of half-back Aaron Smith and his partner. In 2016, the All Blacks suspended Smith for one game and he made the decision to return home from South Africa, after witnesses saw him entering a public toilet with a woman at the airport in Christchurch.
This article was originally published on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission
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