The Black Ferns were hit hard by the pandemic but will relish defending their title on home soil
New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
New Zealand are automatically one of the favourites at any global rugby tournament. The 2022 Rugby World Cup is no different, particularly as they have the advantage of being the host nation for the first time.
They have not needed home comforts in the past, winning five of the seven women’s Rugby World Cups they have entered, including the previous edition in 2017. They have also lost just one match at the tournament this century – to Ireland in 2014.
Surely, then, New Zealand will romp to the title again in 2022? Fittingly, in the age of unprecedented times, their path to glory appears unusually complicated.
New Zealand’s strict Covid-19 protocol significantly hampered its sports teams, with border closures and gathering limits preventing swathes of international matches. The Black Ferns were among the hardest hit, as they did not play a game (besides two intra-squad encounters in November 2020) for 27 months.
A tour of France and England in autumn 2021 marked their return, but results were ugly. They lost all four matches, two against each opponent, by an average margin of more than 29 points. While rust certainly played a role in the harrowing defeats, that New Zealand were outclassed by their two main rivals for the World Cup was a serious concern.
A review into the team’s culture followed, which resulted in the resignation of head coach Glenn Moore earlier this year. In came legendary coach Wayne Smith as director of rugby while Graham Henry and Mike Cron have also been involved in the back-room team.
Smith has made significant changes to the squad – Les Elder and Eloise Blackwell, who had both captained the Black Ferns in recent years, have not been involved, for example – and New Zealand have shown improvement in 2022.
They enjoyed comfortable victories over Canada, USA and Australia to win the Pacific Four Series, and beat the Wallaroos back-to-back again recently to lift the O’Reilly Cup.
Their World Cup pool, featuring the Wallaroos, Wales and Scotland, is not particularly intimidating, but will they be able to overcome England and/or France in the knockout stages?
New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon will co-captain the Black Ferns at the World Cup, with Wayne Smith’s squad a mix of youth and experience.
Kendra Cocksedge and Renee Wickliffe have been selected for their fourth World Cup, while centre Sylvia Brunt is going to her first at the age of just 18.
Smith has called in three players from the Black Ferns Sevens squad that won silver at the recent Sevens World Cup in Cape Town – Stacey Fluhler, Sarah Hirini and Portia Woodman.
Smith, who is going to his first women’s World Cup but fifth overall, wants his team to play entertaining rugby in front of the home supporters.
“We’ve talked a lot this year about wanting to play an exhilarating style of rugby and we have seen that developing throughout the year,” he said. “We want to play on top of the opposition and that requires a certain set of skills that we have been working really hard on.”
Ariana Bayler (14 Dec 1996/Chiefs/Scrum-half/5)
Sylvia Brunt (1 Jan 2004/Blues/Centre/4)
Kendra Cocksedge (1 Jul 1988/Scrum-half/61)
Ruahei Demant (21 Apr 1995/Blues/Fly-half/20)
Amy du Plessis (7 Jul 1999/Matatu/Centre/3)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (25 Feb 1995/Blues/Centre/12)
Stacey Fluhler (3 Nov 1995/Chiefs/Wing/20)
Renee Holmes (21 Dec 1999/Matatu/Full-back/4)
Ayesha Leti-I’iga (3 Jan 1999/Hurricanes/Wing/17)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (29 Mar 1992/Chiefs/Scrum-half/9)
Hazel Tubic (31 Dec 1990/Chiefs/Fly-half/16)
Ruby Tui (13 Dec 1991/Chiefs/Wing/4)
Renee Wickliffe (30 May 1987/Chiefs/Wing/44)
Portia Woodman (12 Jul 1991/Chiefs/Wing/18)
Alana Bremner (10 Feb 1997/Matatu/Back-row/8)
Chelsea Bremner (11 Apr 1995/Matatu/Lock/5)
Luka Connor (24 Sep 1996/Chiefs/Hooker/8)
Natalie Delamere (9 Nov 1996/Matatu/Hooker/2)
Sarah Hirini (9 Dec 1992/Hurricanes/Back-row/10)
Tanya Kalounivale (20 Jan 1999/Chiefs/Prop/4)
Phillipa Love (8 Apr 1990/Matatu/Prop/19)
Charmaine McMenamin (13 May 1990/Blues/Back-row/27)
Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (2 Mar 2002/Blues/Back-row/6)
Krystal Murray (16 Jun 1993/Blues/Prop/4)
Joanah Ngan-Woo (15 Dec 1995/Hurricanes/Lock/10)
Georgia Ponsonby (14 Dec 1999/ Matatu/Hooker/6)
Kendra Reynolds (25 Jan 1993/Matatu/Back-row/5)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (27 Jul 2001/Blues/Lock/7)
Amy Rule (15 Jul 2000/Matatu/Prop/6)
Kennedy Simon (1 Oct 1996/Chiefs/Back-row/10)
Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (16 Dec 1997/Chiefs/Prop/1)
Santo Taumata (5 Feb 2003/Chiefs/Prop/1)
New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2022
(All kick-off times are UK & Ireland time)
Sat 8 Oct, Australia v New Zealand (7.15am, Eden Park, Auckland)
Sun 16 Oct, Wales v New Zealand (3.15am, Waitakere Stadium, Auckland)
Sat 22 Oct, New Zealand v Scotland (4.45am, Northland Events Centre, Whangarei)
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