The Black Ferns triumph in front of record crowd at Eden Park
New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
It was an incredible game of rugby and arguably the best World Cup final of all time, with the Black Ferns scoring some brilliant tries.
It was a tight contest, despite England being reduced to 14 players for 62 minutes after Lydia Thompson was sent off, and the Red Roses had chances to win it in the closing minutes as they looked to deploy their driving lineout, but the hosts held on to get those at Eden Park jumping off their seats in celebration.
England raced into a 14-0 lead but New Zealand got their first try after the red card through a maul of their own, Georgia Ponsonby scoring. They had another two before the break – through Ayesha Leti-I’iga and Amy Rule – but so did England, who led 26-19 at half-time.
Stacey Fluhler gave the hosts the perfect start to the second half, when she scored within 40 seconds. The centre broke brilliantly from deep in her own half and, after a neat interchange with Renee Holmes, dived over.
Then New Zealand took the lead for the first time in the 49th minute when Krystal Murray barged over in the corner, but another England try from a maul put them back in front before Fluhler popped up again with a crucial intervention. Theresa Fitzpatrick kicked in behind the England defence, Fluhler collected and then, as she was tackled, offloaded beautifully to Leti-I’iga.
A few late penalties gave England the platform to set up their driving maul close to the line but Joanah Ngan-Woo’s timely intervention at one lineout after the hooter ensured it was those in black rather than white who lifted the trophy.
New Zealand team to play England – Saturday 12 November
Renee Holmes; Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Portia Woodman; Ruahei Demant (captain), Kendra Cocksedge; Phillipa Love, Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Maiakawanakaukani Roos, Chelsea Bremner, Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Charmaine McMenamin.
Replacements: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Santo Taumata, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Hazel Tubic, Ayesha Leti-I’iga.
New Zealand 25-24 France
New Zealand ended a run of four straight defeats by France to reach the Rugby World Cup final, where they will play England at Eden Park next Saturday.
It was a match full of drama from first minute to last, with les Bleues having a chance to win it with a penalty at the death only for Caroline Drouin to kick the ball wide.
The French were resolute in defence and tested the Black Ferns with their running game, too, but ultimately the tournament hosts were able to hold on for a win.
The Black Ferns may have come into this semi-final topping the stats charts for line breaks, offloads and tackle breaks, but France did not give them time or space to display those talents in the first half.
It took them nearly half an hour to get their first points on the board – a Renee Holmes penalty – and they didn’t get their first try until the closing minutes of the half as the blue wall stood firm.
France had taken a 10-0 lead with an early penalty and converted Romane Menager try but New Zealand were level by the 37th minute thanks to that Holmes penalty and a converted try, which originated from a French error.
After France had held up a New Zealand drive, Drouin kicked the goal-line dropout straight out, which gave the Black Ferns a five-metre scrum under the posts.
When they were then awarded a free-kick, Kendra Cocksedge took a quick tap, passed to Ruahei Demant and the captain fired a wide pass out to Stacey Fluhler to run in on the edge.
Yet France had the final say in the first half. Building from a lineout in the 22, they worked the phases and then Gabrielle Vernier hit a powerful line to get over next to the posts. Half-time and it was 17-10.
It was the Black Ferns out of the blocks fastest in the second half – and they got the first points after the break too. Holmes kicked ahead and Ruby Tui produced a masterful finish to ground the ball just before it rolled over the dead-ball line.
They then took the lead for the first time in the 58th minute when New Zealand built momentum from a driving maul, Luka Connor splintering off, and Theresa Fitzpatrick hit a great line to surge over next to the posts.
Five points from the boot of Demant – conversion and a penalty a couple of minutes later – made it 25-17. But back came France!
Menager powered over under the posts and Drouin’s conversion meant just a point separated the two sides going into the last 15 minutes.
France arguably had the better of that period, albeit that they were reduced to 14 players for most of it after Safi N’Diaye was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle, but they couldn’t find a way to get more points on the board even when presented with a last-minute penalty.
So it’s a New Zealand v England final – and expect a big crowd at Eden Park next weekend.
New Zealand team to play France – Saturday 5 November
Renee Holmes; Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Portia Woodman; Ruahei Demant, Kendra Cocksedge; Phillipa Love, Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Maiakawanakaukani Roos, Chelsea Bremner, Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.
Replacements: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Santo Taumata, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Hazel Tubic, Ayesha Leti-I’iga.
New Zealand 55-3 Wales
Portia Woodman became the top try-scorer in Rugby World Cup history as New Zealand booked their place in the semi-finals with a 55-3 victory over Wales.
The Black Ferns winger equalled former England captain Sue Day’s record of 19 with her first try in the 13th minute and broke it with her second in the 43rd minute. She had already surpassed the men’s record held by Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana (15) earlier in the tournament.
Not only did Woodman show her finishing prowess but she also played a part in several other tries as the tournament hosts won convincingly in Whangarei to set up a last-four tie against France next weekend.
Wales missed their opportunity to get the first points on the board when Elinor Snowsill’s penalty attempt was off-target, then three tries in 15 minutes put the Black Ferns firmly in control.
First Woodman was sent over in the corner by Ruby Tui in the 13th minute, then winger and full-back swapped roles with Woodman providing the assist for Tui.
Sarah Hirini was next over the line just before the half-hour mark, a try that was kick-started by an impressive Theresa Fitzpatrick break.
They had a fourth by half-time, too, with Woodman involved once more. The winger hit a brilliant line to break into Wales’ 22 where her momentum was slowed by Jasmine Joyce. The Black Ferns were able to keep possession, though, and a couple of phases later Amy Rule went over from close range. Ruahei Demant’s third conversion made it 26-3 at half-time.
They scored another five tries in the second half as they continued to stretch Wales’ defence and find space on the edges, particularly in the final quarter when the Welsh were reduced in number by a couple of sin-binnings.
Woodman got the first when she was put into space out wide, with Luka Connor and Alana Bremner also scoring before the hour mark. Connor got a second and Demant also crossed as the game headed towards the final ten minutes.
The match then became scrappy and petered out somewhat, but the Black Ferns have set up a mouth-watering try against les Bleues at Eden Park on Saturday.
New Zealand team to play Wales – Saturday 29 October
Ruby Tui; Portia Woodman, Stacey Fluhler, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Ayesha Leti-I’iga; Ruahei Demant (captain), Kendra Cocksedge; Phillipa Love, Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Chelsea Bremner, Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.
Replacements: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Santo Taumata, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Hazel Tubic, Renee Holmes.
New Zealand 57-0 Scotland
New Zealand all but confirmed top seeding for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals by hammering Scotland 57-0 in their final pool game in Whangarei.
The Black Ferns had top spot in Pool A guaranteed before this match and their 57-point winning margin means that Canada would need to beat the USA by 80 points (as well as score at least four tries) in Auckland tomorrow to overtake the hosts at the top of the seedings for the last eight.
New Zealand showed their ruthlessness in the first half to effectively have the result secured before the break, but they will surely be disappointed with the fractured nature of their second-half performance.
The number of replacements affected their fluency, while their discipline also let them down and they allowed the Scots to gain more territory and possession – not that their opponents were able to capitalise on that.
Still, overall it was a comfortable victory. The Black Ferns had the bonus point wrapped up within 17 minutes after tries from Renee Holmes, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Sarah Hirini and Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.
And they had crossed another three times before the break to lead 45-0 thanks to a Theresa Fitzpatrick try – the centre juggling the ball well on the line – and a Renee Wickliffe double.
The hosts’ dominance in that period was illustrated by the fact that they carried the ball for more than 600 metres than Scotland (633 to 27) and the Scots missed more tackles than New Zealand had to make (23 to 22), not to mention the territory and possession statistics overwhelmingly in their favour.
After weathering a Scottish storm early in the second half, Maia Roos brought up the half-century with the Black Ferns’ eighth try. Holmes then crossed in the corner to take her personal points tally to 22 and wrap up the scoring as the game somewhat petered out in the closing minutes.
New Zealand team to play Scotland – Saturday 22 October
Renee Holmes; Renee Wickliffe, Amy du Plessis, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Ayesha Leti-I’iga; Hazel Tubic, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (captain); Phillipa Love, Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.
Replacements: Natalie Delamare, Krystal Murray, Tanya Kalounivale, Chelsea Bremner, Kendra Cocksedge, Sylvia Brunt, Ruahei Demant.
Wales 12-56 New Zealand
The New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup squad showed their ruthlessness in attack when beating Wales 56-12 at Waitakere Stadium to book their place in the quarter-finals.
The Black Ferns scored ten tries in all as they exploited the frailties in Wales’ defence and are on track to go through to the last eight as the top seeds.
New Zealand had the four-try bonus point wrapped up within half an hour. After weathering an early storm from Wales, they got their first try on 17 minutes when Chelsea Bremner barrelled over a couple of Wales defenders from close range.
Then we saw the pace and power of Portia Woodman. Her first try saw her put into space out wide and get the ball down despite the attentions of two defenders. Then she scythed through the Welsh defence to take play to the 22 and a few sets of hands later teenager Sylvia Brunt crossed.
Woodman scored the bonus-point try, which was a brilliant individual effort. She escaped the tackle of Jasmine Joyce, fended off Megan Webb and then darted around Kayleigh Powell to touch down.
Despite conceding a try from a driving maul just before half-time, the Black Ferns were quick to reassert their authority as a Theresa Fitzpatrick break set up a score for Maiakawanakaulani Roos within 40 seconds of the restart. Then Fitzpatrick went from creator to scorer as Woodman offloaded two metres out from the line for the centre to cross.
Slick handling down the blindside brought a second try for Brunt before Krystal Murray bust through a tackle from close range to make it eight tries by the hour mark.
In the final ten minutes, Ruahei Demant crossed out wide after an initial break by Woodman and Wales got a second try from their driving maul when the hosts were reduced to 13 (both Sarah Hirini and Charmaine McMenamin were sin-binned).
However, a comfortable victory was wrapped up when Ruby Tui was put over by Woodman in the final play to take the try tally into double figures. Now onto Whangarei to face Scotland.
New Zealand team to play Wales – Sunday 16 October
Ruby Tui; Renee Wickliffe, Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Portia Woodman; Ruahei Demant (captain), Ariana Bayler; Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Georgia Ponsonby, Tanya Kalounivale, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Chelsea Bremner, Alana Bremner, Kendra Reynolds, Charmaine McMenamin.
Replacements: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Santo Taumata, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Sarah Hirini, Kendra Cocksedge, Amy du Plessis, Hazel Tubic.
Australia 17-41 New Zealand
Portia Woodman scored a hat-trick as New Zealand came from 17-0 down against Australia to win their Rugby World Cup opener 41-17.
Two Bienne Terita tries and another from Ivania Wong had put the Wallaroos in control after half an hour but the Black Ferns were level within seven minutes of the second half.
First Joanah Ngan-Woo squeezed over from close range after Stacey Fluhler and Ruby Tui had made ground on the blindside in the 31st minute.
Tui was heavily involved in the second try five minutes later, too, taking an Australia clearance kick and then starting a sweeping attacking move across the pitch that led to Woodman scoring in the corner.
It was Woodman who levelled the scores soon after the break, touching down out wide again after an initial break from Ruahei Demant.
Then, with the Wallaroos reduced to 13 players after Wong and Shannon Parry were sin-binned, the tournament hosts took the lead for the first time through Ahwina Tangen-Wainohu and Woodman increased that advantage when collecting a clever Fluhler offload to go over for her third.
Tui then went from provider to scorer when she crossed twice in six minutes in the closing stages. After a rocky start, the Black Ferns closed out a relatively comfortable win.
New Zealand team to play Australia – Saturday 8 October
Renee Holmes; Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler, Amy du Plessis, Portia Woodman; Ruahei Demant (captain), Kendra Cocksedge; Phillipa Love, Luka Connor, Amy Rule, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Chelsea Bremner, Charmaine McMenamin, Sarah Hirini, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.
Replacements: Georgia Ponsonby, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Santo Taumata, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Kendra Reynolds, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Hazel Tubic, Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i Sylvia Brunt.
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.
Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon will co-captain the Black Ferns at the World Cup, with Smith’s New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup 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.”
Here’s the New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad.
Ariana Bayler (14 Dec 1996/Chiefs/Scrum-half)
Sylvia Brunt (1 Jan 2004/Blues/Centre)
Kendra Cocksedge (1 Jul 1988/Scrum-half)
Ruahei Demant (21 Apr 1995/Blues/Fly-half)
Amy du Plessis (7 Jul 1999/Matatu/Centre)
Theresa Fitzpatrick (25 Feb 1995/Blues/Centre)
Stacey Fluhler (3 Nov 1995/Chiefs/Wing)
Renee Holmes (21 Dec 1999/Matatu/Full-back)
Ayesha Leti-I’iga (3 Jan 1999/Hurricanes/Wing)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (29 Mar 1992/Chiefs/Scrum-half)
Hazel Tubic (31 Dec 1990/Chiefs/Fly-half)
Ruby Tui (13 Dec 1991/Chiefs/Wing)
Renee Wickliffe (30 May 1987/Chiefs/Wing)
Portia Woodman (12 Jul 1991/Chiefs/Wing)
Alana Bremner (10 Feb 1997/Matatu/Back-row)
Chelsea Bremner (11 Apr 1995/Matatu/Lock)
Luka Connor (24 Sep 1996/Chiefs/Hooker)
Natalie Delamere (9 Nov 1996/Matatu/Hooker)
Sarah Hirini (9 Dec 1992/Hurricanes/Back-row)
Tanya Kalounivale (20 Jan 1999/Chiefs/Prop)
Phillipa Love (8 Apr 1990/Matatu/Prop)
Charmaine McMenamin (13 May 1990/Blues/Back-row)
Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (2 Mar 2002/Blues/Back-row)
Krystal Murray (16 Jun 1993/Blues/Prop)
Joanah Ngan-Woo (15 Dec 1995/Hurricanes/Lock)
Georgia Ponsonby (14 Dec 1999/ Matatu/Hooker)
Kendra Reynolds (25 Jan 1993/Matatu/Back-row)
Maiakawanakaulani Roos (27 Jul 2001/Blues/Lock)
Amy Rule (15 Jul 2000/Matatu/Prop)
Kennedy Simon (1 Oct 1996/Chiefs/Back-row)
Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (16 Dec 1997/Chiefs/Prop)
Santo Taumata (5 Feb 2003/Chiefs/Prop)
New Zealand Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad Fixtures 2022
(All kick-off times are UK & Ireland time)
Sat 8 Oct, Australia 17-41 New Zealand
Sun 16 Oct, Wales 12-56 New Zealand
Sat 22 Oct, New Zealand 57-0 Scotland
Sat 29 Oct, New Zealand 55-3 Wales
Sat 5 Nov, New Zealand 25-24 France
Sat 12 Nov, New Zealand 34-31 England
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