Rugby World Cup: Pay disparity reports with England 'way off', says Black Ferns veteran Chelsea Semple

Reports about the pay disparity between England and the Black Ferns have been dismissed as "way off" by veteran midfielder Chelsea Semple.

The UK's Telegraph alleged the 'Red Roses' would receive a bonus of 15,000 pounds ($NZ30,000) per player, if they win the World Cup, while no such provision exists for the NZ women.

NZ Rugby quickly countered, claiming Black Ferns salaries were among the best in the world, with their base salaries of $95,000 nearly double that of England.

England sing the national anthem at Rugby World Cup
England sing the national anthem at Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

As one of the 35 contracted Black Ferns players, Semple has told Sky Sport's Breakdown that the numbers reported are wrong and the hearsay has only detracted from the onfield product at the tournament.

"That article that did come out," said Semple. "For me, as someone who is contracted, it wasn't right.

"It was incorrect. The numbers weren't correct, they were way off.

"It was frustrating. All of that chat is just creating rumours and it’s taking away from this amazing spectacle right now, which is the Rugby World Cup.

"This whole thing came out midweek was a real shame and I hope the girls aren’t talking about it in camp, because they have bigger things to focus on."

Semple has played 28 tests for the Black Ferns, including their triumphant 2017 World Cup campaign, but failed to make the final 32-player squad for the current tournament on home soil.

The salary speculation is part of an underlying narrative of financial parity with the men that has loomed large, which includes the decision to use just three venues and games being limited to tripleheaders on weekends.

Former All Blacks wing Jeff Wilson says any discussions about financial and contractual matters should be parked until after the tournament to allow the event itself to shine.

"It's disappointing for me," Wilson said on Breakdown. "I understand that World Rugby had clear reasons why they are playing all the games on the weekend at single venues, three on each day, but what happens is there is five days of discussion [in between].

"We've been sidetracked by talking about who is going to get what if they win, rather than talking about the fact there are games going on.

"We should be talking about the rugby. Talk about that stuff afterwards."

All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan echoes those sentiments, stressing the need to keep the bigger picture in mind, when discussing professionalism in women's rugby.

"What you need to realise right now is that the women’s game is still in the investment phase," Sir John told Breakdown. "That's why they are playing it on the weekends.

"It will be about cost - I get that - but I don't understand why we are talking about the salaries, and who is getting this and who is going to win that. It's a professional sport.

"We should be way more mature than that. Whatever someone gets paid is irrelevant."

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