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Celebrating Alana Bremner: A Decade of Dominance in First-Class Rugby

Celebrating Alana Bremner: A Decade of Dominance in First-Class Rugby

All BlacksApril 6, 2024

Matatū captain Alana Bremner became the 21st woman to play 100 first-class games when she led Matatū to a 37-17 victory over Hurricanes Poua in Super Rugby Aupiki in Christchurch last Friday.

With five Farah Palmer Cup Premierships, 19 defenses of the JJ Stewart Trophy, a Super Rugby Aupiki crown, and a Rugby World Cup on her resume, victory was the only acceptable way to mark Bremner’s milestone.

“It’s a cool milestone. I debuted for Canterbury in 2014 so it’s taken me a decade to get here,” Bremner said.

“The girls got around me and to share the milestone with family and friends back home in Christchurch after a month on the road was special.

“We’ve been building the last few weeks, and it was great to see all the hard work paid. We scored some cool tries, and it’s a relief to get on the board.”

Defending champions Matatū had lost four consecutive games, ruling them out of contention for the final. The camaraderie in the group and form of Bremner though has been strong.  

“Our losses have been by close margins which is exciting for the development of Aupiki. In tight games we’ve been on the wrong side of winning crucial moments be that a making an error attacking, throwing an intercept, or a referees’ call going against us,” Bremner observed.

“I appreciate leadership comes with responsibility, so I’ve been trying to lead by example while leaning on others more often for advice. I don’t know it all, but working collaboratively ensures we all learn and grow.

We’ve been working on resilience and consistency in key areas. We’ve shown we can score quality tries from first-phase ball.”

Matatū led for a combined 56 minutes and were level for 68 minutes in the four matches they lost.

Bremner leads the tackle count in Aupki with 77 in five matches. She has played lock, blindside, and eight. A leader in the lineout, Bremner is unsurprised by the growing usage and threat of the driving maul. Matatū conceded four tries from the maul in their 38-22 loss to Chiefs Manawa.

It’s really hard to stop, and teams are getting good at it. Avoiding the maul is about being smart, reducing the penalty count, and playing in opposition territory.”

Bremner has played 19 Tests for the Black Ferns, including five of seven in 2023. The Rugby World Cup is only 14 months away and England remains benchmark with their menacing maul. The Red Roses have won 42 of their past 43 international and beat the Black Ferns 33-12 in November 2023.

“When I debuted against England in 2021 it was the Black Fern’s 100th Test. Marile Packer played her 100th Test in the Six Nations recently. That’s a phenomenal achievement to be so consistent for so long. She’s definitely one of those players you remember. She’s really in your face and physical,” Bremner said.

“The build-up to this World Cup feels very different to 2022. There are a lot more international on the calendar. We have more time together to build combinations, analyse, and play tests against countries that are getting better all the time.

“The Black Ferns biggest priorities now would be our kicking game, how and when we kick, our body height in contact, and improving our carry and clean.”

Defense, lineout, and leadership are specifics, Bremner is concerned about and she has the ear of recently retired All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock to lean on. The legendary lock won 281 of his 363 first-class games, including the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and 2015.

“I first met Sam when Matatu management put us in touch. I had a face time with him where I wrote down heaps of questions and was kind of in awe. I looked at the clock and 45 minutes was gone, just like that.

“I’ve stayed in touch because he’s an awesome advocate for the game and I can ask him very pointed questions about the lineout, leadership, and defense.”

The venue for the final between the Blues and Chiefs Manawa will be resolved after this weekend’s round. Bremner is torn as to who she thinks might win that clash.

“It’ll be an exciting game. The Chiefs are structured and experienced whereas the Blues are more unpredictable, but when they get a roll on, they’re hard to stop.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the Blues have gone from last to the final. We did the same in 2023, that extra motivation helps, and the Blues have got some awesome players.” 

Round 6️⃣ teams are locked in 🔒

Have a support message for your team ahead of the last regular season match? Submit it here 👉 https://t.co/zR14GRjTFa#Aupiki24 #LoveEveryMinute pic.twitter.com/f8awzr0Vm1

— Super Rugby NZ (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 5, 2024

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