With Chelsea Alley now a ‘seasoned campaigner’ for the Black Ferns XVs side, it is a story of recognized talent developing into a supreme talent.
Celebrated this week at the New Zealand Rugby, ASB Rugby Awards, Alley was one of many women and men to be highlighted. Given praise in a year like no other yet, where even in the disrupted preseason, Chelsea and her fellow Farah Palmer Cup player’s all took whatever chances they were offered.
Every rugby player had to do the same. With the starting dates for the 2020 domestic and International seasons interrupted, a delayed and shortened FPC season was followed by an abridged Black Ferns season. With no in-bound teams allowed to visit New Zealand, head coach Glenn Moore was only able to play a North v South trial match, before two games against a NZ Barbarians side.
Throughout, it has concentrated the notion that women like Chelsea Alley, new skipper Eloise Blackwell, and Black Ferns senior player’s that impresses most. Unrattled, they all showed great dedication when facing the challenges that the men’s national team only experienced partially. Still able to play in a Tri Nations, the women were denied this due to Australian domestic competition unable to fairly prepare the Jillaroos side – understandable, in a year upset so much by the Coronavirus.
But throughout this, individuals like Chelsea Alley held their heads up high. She maintains the high standards of the World Champion Black Ferns XV team, and is honoured with the top award by NZ Rugby.
🥁 And the winner of the @BlackFerns Player of the year is…Chelsea Alley.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) December 17, 2020
Chelsea Alley now Black Ferns ‘seasoned campaigner’
After nine seasons of national provincial rugby, Chelsea Alley has always looked to make the improvements to her game first stated in October 2013. Then with Waikato, the first-five was both ambitious yet also respectful that to rise to the top, she would have to ‘put in the hard work’.
She told Stuff.com, even after gaining her first cap for the Black Ferns against England in July of that year, she would give back in every way possible. “I guess I’ve had to kind of step up a bit this year,” Alley said. “It’s quite hard because I still am actually one of the youngest in the team so it’s a bit weird taking on leadership especially with the older girls but they’ve been real good and we kind of feed off each other.”
It that way, all the leading players who reach the apex in NZ rugby feel obliged to give back. As captain of the Waikato team now, Alley will knowingly want to offer advice to new and to younger players. Alongside her in that Farah Palmer Cup side, was Stacey Fluhler (nee Waaka). Another national representative yet Fluhler is a regular member of the Black Ferns 7s side. Yet with the sevens player’s hopes of Olympic glory postponed, she was also a bright example to others in the national provincial squad.
All are recent recipients of the newly professional, contracted system employed by NZ Rugby. One where it rewards the likes of Alley, and Cocksedge. Both highlay regarded on the field, they were all recognized at the ASB Rugby Awards night.
Black Ferns Player of the Year – Chelsea Alley (Waikato)
As of the end of the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup Season, Alley’s points-scoring capability is exempliﬁed by the fact that her 469 ﬁrst-class points, from 79 games, rank her fifth on the all-time New Zealand list. Her 44 games and 393 points for Waikato are union records.
With 24 tests under her belt, Alley was a part of the successful 2017 team and at 28, will be at her prime in 2021 when New Zealand host the women’s Rugby World Cup tournament.
Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year – Stacey Fluhler
Fiao’o Faamausili Medal (Farah Palmer Cup Player of the Year) – Kendra Cocksedge
Also recognized was All Blacks captain Sam Cane. Winning the Kel R Tremain Memorial Award, his first year as skipper has been one that did not meet expectations. Three wins, two losses and one draw, yet Cane continued to put his body on the line. He led from the front and while the Bledisloe Cup was retained, there are lessons to be learned for 2021.
— Rugby Heaven (@NZRugbyHeaven) December 17, 2020
If any comparison can be made between Cane and Chelsea Alley – apart from being from the Bay of Plenty – is that they are both team players. Ready to give their all, be a link in the chain and, each have the experience which can guarantee they make the right decision under the most intense pressure situations.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images