Rugby columnist’s contract terminated after women’s rugby opinion piece

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Players in action at the Farah Palmer Cup women’s rugby match between Auckland Storm and Waikato in October 2020. Photo / Photosport

Rugby columnist Sam Casey lost his job at sports radio station SENZ after an opinion piece claiming too much money was being invested in women’s rugby for too little return.

Casey’s article “Hands up, not out” was written before he joined SENZ and featured in another publication, Rugby News, last week.

In it, Casey said there was “no rhyme or reason” why the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens players were paid for what they did and that they “always hit the nail on the head. the hand instead of raising it “.

Casey told the Herald that he supported the article, but that he could have expressed his point better and that he intended the article to deal with the economics of rugby in New Zealand, and not a “potshot” of women’s rugby.

Sports Entertainment Network, the radio station’s parent company, said Casey’s views in the column were at odds with the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion of all of the company’s sports and athletes.

The tone and language used in the article was very disrespectful to New Zealand female athletes, he said.

Casey said the decision to terminate his contract was unexpected.

“Obviously, this is an opinion piece and it’s designed to create debate and discussion. [I] could have … articulated it better. “

“I wasn’t naive enough to think this wasn’t going to ruffle the feathers, but in the end it’s an opinion piece and not everyone will agree with it.”

“From my perspective it was an opinion piece on the economics of rugby in New Zealand, it wasn’t ‘let’s try women’s rugby’.”

In the article, Casey took aim at Farah Palmer Cup player Alice Soper for how she pressured New Zealand rugby (NZR) to get more playing time for the Black Ferns.

“Voice commentator Alice Soper, a member of the Wellington FPC team, went so far as to publicly announce to NZR that she was doing everything possible to get the All Blacks to play, but not the Black Ferns,” the article said. .

“She honestly believed during such a horrible time [Covid-19] in economic times, the NZR should not have given priority to the biggest money spinners in the game, those who pay for the competition in which it plays … “

Speaking to Heather du Plessis-Allan of Newstalk ZB, Soper said New Zealand rugby had struggled to make money before Covid-19 and women’s rugby hadn’t made anything worse.

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