Originally, the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup was scheduled to begin a few weeks prior to the Mitre 10 Cup starting but, as the Coronavirus pandemic altered the timeline, it is now sitting well alongside the men’s competition.
Even though with fewer teams, and in pools split along geographical lines – rather than a Premiership/Championship one – the women’s competition is deserving of full credit. Teams have prepared just as much, and are putting their all into each fixture every bit as much. And gladly, more exposure and television coverage is delivering a better product in 2020.
In playing on the same days, in games scheduled to begin before Mitre 10 (M10) Cup fixtures, it is naturally a supporting category yet, in no way is it inferior. Played in a positive manner, many games are bringing fans to rugby grounds and stadiums earlier, so that the girls are provided every opportunity for success, as the boys do.
📝 ROUND 4 WRAP | Catch up on all the moving and shaking from a pulsating fourth round of the #FarahPalmerCup.
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) September 27, 2020
The soundtrack today might not be so much Cyndi Lauper, as more likely to be Lady Gaga. Confident, and standing straight up, no longer peeking around the corner. And well should they be confident.
Farah Palmer Cup sitting well alongside Mitre 10 Cup schedule
If the last few years have shown anything, it is that women’s rugby cannot be the afterthought. You would be wrong to believe that national rugby unions consider women second. No, they should be just as primary as men, as junior rugby and in that segment’s growth, it is also promoting other areas such as blind rugby, wheelchair, and other sectors of the game.
Planned on the same level as senior men’s rugby. Possibly not in the same instance; as the M10 Cup schedule was released before the women’s but, given as much importance today. And sitting alongside is now the rightful place for both sides of the sport.
Though the physical difference is still there. You’d hardly expect an 80-pound woman to display the same physical expression as a 110-pound man. Yet on more levels and in passion even more so, the matches in the Farah Palmer Cup have every bit the same skill and determination on display.
Game highlights for the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup fixtures to date, are better than ever. This is due to the culmination of the last years of competitions and of ‘learnings’ being incorporated in the team’s build-up and their practices. Some of the preparation was interrupted by Covid-19 limits of training in groups. But it did not change the effort that individuals put in. As the men had to, the women adapted and then ‘hit it harder’ when given the green light to train in groups.
Exposure growing across the globe
These are the examples that would be replicated across the globe. Women in the Northern Hemisphere train just as hard, and the appreciation and exposure too is mimicking what fans see downunder. The global game’s growth is matched well by players’ on-field efforts, just like it is in coaching and in the promotion.
Those factors are supporting the quality of rugby. And while there might still be some high scorelines, when two teams of equal stature meet – like in the Counties-Manukau v Northland match – then the results are compelling football. Down 20-10, an inspired second-half revival thrilled fans, to see the visitors leave with a 20-32 win. More matches like this will bring fans to the park.
And that is one of the many positives to be seen already, after four weeks of the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup. Three more rounds will demonstrate that – week five sees Canterbury host Wellington, in a televised game at 4:35pm. That’s primetime viewing for young girls and boys to enjoy.
By week seven, the results will present followers with their semi-finalists, before a Grand Final to crown one team as champions. Everyone should expect some high-quality playoffs. Quality that sits well right alongside any of the Mitre 10 Cup games.
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