Rugby World Cup: NZ Rugby addresses schedule clash as All Blacks, Black Ferns face viewership battle

NZ Rugby has copped to the scheduling clash that will see the All Blacks and Black Ferns play tests at the same time on Saturday.

The opening test of the All Blacks' northern tour against Japan will kick off in Tokyo at 6:50pm, then 40 minutes later, the Black Ferns' Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Wales begins at Whangārei.

Ultimately, the blame falls somewhere between World Rugby, who always intended the Black Ferns would play the Saturday 7:30pm quarter-final, Japan Rugby Football Union - the home organiser of the All Blacks v Japan test - and NZ Rugby.

"It's a mistake - a simple oversight that's unfortunately had bigger consequences," admitted NZ Rugby professional rugby and performance general manager Chris Lendrum.

"We're really gutted, to be honest, that it's happened, because we're like every other rugby fan in New Zealand and want to watch both games live, but there's still the opportunity for all New Zealand to watch whichever team they want, hopefully both."

On social media, NZR confirms it attempted to reschedule kickoff for the men's fixture, but was unsuccessful.

"Unfortunately, when Japan Rugby set the kickoff time for the All Blacks test, NZR did not take into account the Rugby World Cup stipulation that the host nation would play in the quarterfinal 2 timeslot, regardless of pool results, and may inadvertently cause a clash.

"There was never an intent to overshadow the Rugby World Cup in any way and NZ Rugby is delighted with how New Zealanders have embraced, not only the Black Ferns, but the tournament as a whole.

"We know the scheduling clash is not ideal, but fans are still able to watch and support the Black Ferns and the All Blacks.

"We encourage New Zealanders to keep up their inspiring support of the Black Ferns, as they continue their journey through what has been a wonderful tournament to date."

Lendrum admits certain people within NZ Rugby were aware of the potential Black Ferns quarter-final draw before the tournament even started - but they weren't the same people responsible for scheduling the All Blacks test.

The Black Ferns celebrate.
The Black Ferns celebrate. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"Everyone respects that this is an organisation that's been moving at huge pace over the last two-and-a-half years," he said. "We just didn't get the right people connected at the right time, then we discovered where we ended up on Sunday.

"It's unfortunate that it's happened, but everyone involved has so much love and care for that [Black Ferns] programme. We're gutted it's happened and we've tried out best to make changes, but we haven't been able to, so we are where we are."

The Black Ferns themselves have addressed the clash, hoping those attending and watching elsewhere can appreciate what's on offer.

"At the end of the day, we're playing some really good footy," said veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge. "We've attracted an awesome crowd across the country and across the world.

"We're hoping everyone gets in and supports us, and we ask that from New Zealand and the world, there's been some good footy on display. 

"Back us and, as Gossy [teammate Sarah Hirini] said, watch the All Blacks on replay."

Catch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join Newshub on Saturday for live updates of both the Black Ferns and All Blacks