• April 6, 2018
The Northern Marlins are training hard to take home the shield this year. Photo: Gabrielle Tutheridge
A deaf rugby player says the Deaf Blacks receive little media coverage and little funding – despite competing around the world.
James Copeland, who plays for the Deaf Blacks and Northern Marlins rugby teams, said “in November last year, we went to England and played three test-matches against the English deaf team.”
Mr Copeland, said “the English Rugby team had a lot more support (from media) and a lot more funding from their rugby union, their uniform probably cost more than what we got given for funding.”
Evelyn Pateman, Deaf Blacks assistant team manager and sign language interpreter, said “the Deaf Blacks should get media coverage, they are representing New Zealand, it’s their country and they feel just as proud as any athlete would to put on a black shirt and silver fern.”
Mrs Pateman also believed that the media would enhance the promotion of the sport.
She said, “recognition from the media would show parents of deaf children that they can compete at a national level, show current players as role models for the younger deaf generation.”
The founder of the deaf rugby association, Kevin Pivac said, “I wanted to encourage more deaf people to get involved (with rugby) because it is important for the deaf to be competitive in sports.”
There are three deaf rugby teams in New Zealand which come from different areas, the Northern Marlins, Central Zone and Southern Zone. All self-funded but can apply for grants.
Mrs Pateman is the manager of the Southern Zone and fundraises by hosting events, BBQs, raffles and working bees to try to cover the cost of their team.
She said, “The New Zealand Deaf Rugby Football Union, is self-funded and applies for grants, but only gets a small payment from NZ Rugby.”
At Easter each year, the deaf rugby tournament has been held since 1994. The tournament this year was held in Christchurch, and the zones came together to compete for the shield. The Southern Zone remained the title holders for the seventh year in a row.
“At the tournament, we will have the selection of the Deaf Blacks team. This team plays internationally,” said Mr Pivac.
He is excited to see new players and hopes that “in 2022 we will hold the Deaf Rugby world cup in New Zealand.”