‘Explosive to read’: NZ Rugby reacts to Black Fern’s overture on mental health issues


A senior New Zealand rugby official described Black Ferns hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate’s decision to go public with her mental health crisis as “shocking to read” and vowed that the organization would support the player. every possible way.

Ngata-Aerengamate spoke of a mental health crisis which she said came to a head during the team’s recent Nordic tour.

Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, pictured in a test against Australia in 2019, has appeared in 32 tests for the Black Ferns.

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, pictured in a test against Australia in 2019, has appeared in 32 tests for the Black Ferns.

NZ Rugby chief executive, professional rugby and performance general manager Chris Lendrum, spoke to the media on Tuesday morning about allegations which appear to have been directed against Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore.

“My first reaction is that it’s really painful to read,” Lendrum said. “You never like to see a human describe their own situation like Te Kura did.”

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Lendrum confirmed he had been in contact with Ngata-Aerengamate and Moore on Tuesday morning.

“Our first priority is to make sure TK is doing well,” said Lendrum. “I texted her this morning describing our support and care for her, and that we are here and ready to speak when she is.

“And I know a number of other people in and around the Black Ferns program talk to him and do the same.

“It is clear that we take any issues raised like this very seriously. We are really proud of the environment of our national team. Really proud of our Black Ferns and in their case we have a review going on. their year 2021 and the north tour.

“This issue will be explored in depth as part of this review. And we’ll go from there. “

Ngata-Aerengamate started two tests and came off the bench once during his European tour which ended with four successive losses to England and France last month.

It was the first time the Black Ferns had lost four tests in a row.

Ngata-Aerengamate won the 2017 Rugby World Cup and has appeared in 32 tests since his debut with the Black Ferns in 2014.

The 30-year-old described her struggles in an Instagram post on Monday night.

“Behind the smile,” she wrote.

“A week after the tour and the emotions are real. Should I speak or should I be silent crosses my mind a thousand times. I never thought I would get mentally ill in a sport I loved so much.

“I didn’t play the way I wanted to on this tour. And the way I’ve played the last few years hasn’t been the best.

“In the last 8 years that I was in the Black Ferns I struggled mentally and finally gave it all up on the last tour.

“Yes, I had a nervous breakdown in front of everyone.”

Ngata-Aerengamate said various comments were made to him during his time on the tour.

“That I had been selected but that I did not deserve to be part of the team …

“Have I been told what my students would think of me?” [She works as a school teacher.]

“I was sworn to wear my jacket around my hips, yelled at me to run to the rucks, how I ran the ball, whatever I did, felt I was doing wrong.

“A recent comment that I was chosen only to play guitar.”

Ngata-Aerengamate said her confidence was so low that she found it difficult to play.

“From those comments I ended up going crazy. I had to do anger management counseling, I had discovered anxiety and hyperventilation for the first time in my life, I could hear these comments in my head as I tossed the ball, ”he said. she declared.

“My self-confidence and self-esteem was so low it made me act like I was walking on eggshells and I was constantly too scared to express myself. I invited self-doubt and insecurities; some being unbearable to look at me in the mirror.

“The reality is that I had been defeated and it was so dark I couldn’t see my WHY anymore. I had forgotten the 5 year old girl who started playing rugby with her cousins ​​25 years ago.

“I’ve let the words get to me over the years, the words have become flesh.

“The lesson is never let anyone dim your light. Be proud of who you are. If you’re being treated unfairly, hit them with no apologies because ultimately it’s your in-game mana.

“I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m still a person and deserve to be treated with respect at the very least.

“Now I am on a healing journey. Get up. Speak. Know your worth. “

Lendrum said there was “a tremendous amount of professional support in the Black Ferns environment for all of our employees, players and managers” on the tour.

This, he said, included a mental skills specialist, as well as the touring team doctor and there was and “a great deal of professional support available” at NZ Rugby.

“Some of these people will have been aware (of what happened on the tour),” Lendrum said. “I’m aware that there was a problem with the tour, but it’s very personal for Te Kura. She should be commenting on this, and she probably said whatever she wanted, j ‘conceived.”

Ngata-Aerengamate has received favorable comments from his Black Ferns teammates including Chelsea Alley, Dhys Faleafaga, Carla Hohepa and Ayesha Leti-Iiga, as well as All Blacks Ardie Savea and TJ Perenara, Sevens stars Ruby Tui and Tyla Nathan. -Wong, and Olympic shot put icon Dame Valerie Adams.

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Ngata-Aerengamate, whose iwi is Ngāti Porou, often led the black fern haka.

She is fluent in Te Reo Maori and is a teacher at Kaitaia College in Northland, which she plays for in the Farah Palmer Cup.

In the first Women’s Super Rugby game in May, she started for the Blues against the Chiefs.

She changed her code to play for the Cook Islands at the 2017 Rugby Union World Cup in Australia.

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