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 Rugby Union News 
Wednesday, November 16 2022
Kaitāia's rugby sweetheart welcomed home in street parade

The Far North has erupted in celebration following the homecoming of their much-loved, newly-crowned Women’s Rugby World Cup champion, Krystal Murray.

The Black Ferns prop was welcomed home to Te Hiku o Te Ika this afternoon by thousands of people as part of a large street parade in her honour.

The special moment wasn't lost on 29-year-old Murray, who was "shocked" when she learned the community had organised the event.

"I feel really good, like a world champion actually, and like my dreams have come true," she said.

"Just being acknowledged by our small community. This town means a lot to me, that's the reason why I choose to stay here.

"I'm the only player who lives outside of an NZ Rugby high-performance hub, but I just refuse to move because this is my home," Murray said.

Fans from all walks of life lined the main street of Kaitāia (Commerce St) as Murray made her way from Kaitāia Plumbing to Jaycee Park Skate Park.

Kaitāia local Shayelah Hobson said while she wasn't much of a sports fan, she was proud to support one of our own local girls.

"I don't usually watch rugby but this was an important match and we were screaming the whole time," Hobson said.

"I feel this place brings the best out of me," Murray said.

"It's been a dream of mine to play for the Black Ferns at the World Cup, so I set out a couple of years ago to play in the World Cup in Whangārei on my own whenua in front of my own people."

The celebration is the first of what is expected to be many in the coming weeks, following New Zealand's stunning 34-31 win over England at the Women's Rugby World Cup final at Auckland's Eden Park stadium at the weekend.

"Just even to get the win at Eden Park, it was crazy, I can't even describe it," Murray said.

The match has been dubbed a game-changer for women's sports, breaking a range of records for attendance, online, and television viewing.

"I felt all these emotions, excitement, and relief as well because not only myself but the team has worked so hard and we've all been on the same mission for the last year to win that one game and it came down to that one minute," Murray said.

"There's been a lot of obstacles, but I got there in the end."

It's not been an easy road to success for the Black Ferns, who suffered several losses in Europe last year.

"Obviously we lost every game over there, so I don't think there's any joy in losing, there's only learning and that's what we did - we learned from it and it made us review them and beat them.

"It 100 per cent inspired us to do better and a lot of fuel came with us when we came home (after Europe) because we were all quite upset and didn't know how we were going to turn it around."

This year New Zealand Rugby apologised for failing to properly support the elite women's game following a damning review of the Black Ferns' culture.

The review was sparked after senior Black Ferns' hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate revealed that she suffered a mental breakdown after alleged critical comments from former Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore.

"With Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate speaking up really changed our environment and forced New Zealand Rugby to put in a review and that's how we ended up getting better coaches," said Murray.

"That really turned the tide and meant we were free to be ourselves."


Posted by: AT 11:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email