Wednesday, 25 November 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Emotion flows as Eloise Blackwell runs out as captain of the Black Ferns

An emotional build-up turned to triumph for former Mercury Bay Area School student, Eloise Blackwell, on Friday last week as she captained the New Zealand Black Ferns to victory in their first game of the year.

The 29-year-old lock was given the honour of leading the team for the first time having clocked up 43 caps since first pulling on the black jersey in 2011 against England. Announcing her captaincy earlier last week, Black Ferns head coach, Glenn Moore, said Eloise had grown her leadership skills in her role as captain for the Auckland Storm and had been a core member of the Black Ferns leadership group for several years. “Ella (Eloise) sets an example as a tough and uncompromising player, often playing out the full 80 minutes for us,” he said. “She has excellent game knowledge and leads by the way she plays. Along with this, she is a strategic thinker and natural communicator,” Speaking ahead of Friday’s game against the New Zealand Barbarians at the Trusts Area in Auckland, Eloise said the fact she had been named as captain hadn’t sunk in yet but promised it would be business as usual out on the field, pledging to lead through her actions.

However, the significance of the moment for the Epsom Girls Grammar teacher certainly dawned as the she ran out ahead of her team and was clear to see during the national anthem when the tears flowed alongside a beaming yet humble smile.

Eloise brought a passion for sport and in particular rugby with her when she first arrived at MBAS in Year 9, there being no secondary school on Great Barrier Island where she grew up. She went straight into the Girls First XV and quickly started to display a talent and work ethic that would eventually see her rise to the top of her game, becoming the first former student of the school to become a world champion when the Black Ferns won the Rugby World Cup in 2017.

Speaking back then, Mercury Bay Area School principal, John Wright, said “Eloise has been a fantastic role model for our school over the years and seeing her representing our country on the world stage is remarkable. At school Eloise was always passionate about competing in her favourite sport at the highest level and her natural talent, enthusiasm, engaging personality and determination has taken her to the honours she deserves. We are very proud of Eloise and all that she has accomplished.” 

After a packed match schedule for 2020 was decimated by COVID-19, the current two game series against the Barbarians is the latest stage in the Ferns’ preparation for the next Rugby World Cup which is due to be held in New Zealand in 10 months’ time. The Black Ferns will learn more about that particular challenge when the draw is held in Auckland this Friday. Meanwhile the team is preparing to build on Friday’s 34-15 with the second game against the Barbarians taking place in Nelson this weekend.

Pictured: Former Mercury Bay Area School student, Eloise Blackwell, who captained the Black Ferns for the first time at the weekend. Photo courtesy of the All Blacks.

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