Major teams: Waikato, Otago
Country: New Zealand
Test span: 1996-2006
Unquestionably one of the most respected leaders in women’s rugby history, Farah Palmer led the Black Ferns to total dominance following her debut in 1996, captaining the team to World Cup triumphs in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
In a career filled with accolades, she also led the team to Canada Cup titles in 1996, 2000 and 2005 and a Churchill Cup win in 2004.
An uncompromising hooker, Palmer was a feared front-rower with an excellent set-piece game and outstanding skills while her experience and leadership inspired her team to win after win.
With a background steeped in sport, Palmer grew up playing everything she could until finding rugby at Otago University. Originally a prop, she switched to hooker in 1994 and became captain of the Black Ferns in 1997 – celebrating with a 67–0 win over England at Burnham Army Camp in Christchurch, followed by a win against Australia at Carisbrook in Dunedin.
After taking a year out of rugby to compete as a bodybuilder, she rejoined the Black Ferns in 2003 while at the same time making good success of her club career, helping Manawatu win promotion to the NPC.
During her time as captain, the Black Ferns lost only once and she was named in World Rugby’s Hall of Fame alongside team-mate Anna Richards, no real surprise given the role she played in taking New Zealand to the top. She was also the IRB International Women’s Personality of the Year in 2005.
In 2007 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to women’s rugby and sport and these days she is a senior lecturer in Massey University’s School of Management.
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She is now a well-known figure in New Zealand as a vocal ambassador for women’s sport and Maori women, with outspoken views on the support given to the women’s game.