Staff at the Ulster Branch of the IRFU were honoured to receive a visit last Friday from former New Zealand Black Ferns captain Farah Palmer.
Farah Palmer’s visit to Ravenhill was part of a world trip to research the development of women’s rugby on behalf of the New Zealand Rugby Union and the International Rugby Board.
Before travelling to Donegal, where she took part in a series of coaching sessions over the weekend, Farah took the opportunity to visit the home of Ulster Rugby and to catch Friday night’s match between Ulster Women and the British Amy at Belfast Harlequins RFC.
Farah is probably best known for her rugby accolades, which include captaining the New Zealand Black Ferns’ World Cup winning sides of 1998, 2002 and 2006.
She was voted NZRU Women’s Player of the Year in 1998 and IRB International Women’s Personality of the Year in 2005.
Farah was named Maori Sportsperson of the Year in both 1998 and 2006, and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to women’s rugby and sport.
She has also been involved in a Women’s Advisory Committee for the International Rugby Board (IRB) and is currently the first woman to be appointed to the Maori Rugby Board as an independent director.
Outside of her sporting career, Farah successfully completed a PhD in Sports Sociology before moving to her current position as a senior lecturer in Sports Management at Massey University.
She also works as a motivational speaker, a role that allows her to fulfil her passion of ‘helping people to reach their potential in the areas of sport and tertiary education.’
Speaking about her visit to Ulster, Farah commented: “It was great to be invited over to Ulster to learn about the processes involved in integrating men’s and women’s rugby.
“Women’s rugby is obviously well supported here, with some very passionate people on board.
“I think New Zealand can definitely learn something from how things are done here, especially at the development level, which is the starting point for a national team winning World Cups.”
Joy Sparkes, the Women’s Regional Development Officer at Ulster Rugby, added: “I think I speak for all staff at the Ulster Branch when I say what an honour it was to have had such an inspirational figure as Farah visit the province.
“I’m delighted that she has expressed an interest in the development of the game in Ulster.
“Farah has achieved a huge amount both on and off the pitch and I’d like to thank her for supporting women’s rugby in the province and taking the time to come to Ravenhill.”