LISTEN: This week’s Extra Time podcast discusses rugby, and could this be one of the best seasons for women’s domestic rugby in New Zealand, thanks to Covid-19?

Lockdown may prove to have a positive impact on women’s rugby, with Black Ferns midfielder Chelsea Alley predicting this year’s Farah Palmer Cup will be the strongest ever.

The Waikato captain in 2019, Alley sees the wealth of skilled New Zealand players available for this year’s domestic championship as a real boon for rugby.

The Farah Palmer Cup has been confirmed for August and all club rugby resumes this month.

“Only a few weeks ago, we weren’t sure we would even get the chance to play,” Alley says on this week’s Extra Time podcast. “But now it’s probably going to be the best competition there’s been.

“We have got all the Black Ferns girls available, and all the Black Ferns Sevens girls are going back to their regions and provinces to play.”

Wellington Pride forward Alice Soper expects an interesting competition too. Some of the finer details are still to be sorted, with the 13 teams to be split into North and South pools, but she can see the clear team to beat before the FPC even kicks off.

“Who can stop Canterbury? I don’t bloody know!” Soper laughs.

But Covid-19 may have a different effect club on rugby, with Soper predicting some women’s clubs in the Wellington region will fold this year.

“Six months [preseason] is a long time; you lose momentum and the rollover from rugby being something you do to being something you choose to do,” she says.

She’s also seeing athletes from other codes cross over to rugby because the sport has got back on its feet quicker than others, like basketball.

On this week’s episode, the panel also discusses the derogatory comments from former English cricketer Geoffrey Boycott, who claims women shouldn’t commentate on men’s cricket – even former international women’s cricketers who he says don’t have the experience required to do expert analysis on the men’s game.

And of course there’s a preview of the first weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa to feed rugby-starved fans. 

* Extra Time is a podcast brought to you by RNZ, Stuff and LockerRoom.

Joe Porter is a Radio New Zealand sports reporter who specialises in rugby.

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