A message from space and a family legacy both feature in our latest round-up from New Zealand


Women’s Rugby World Cup: Day Two Highlights

The first weekend of pool matches at this year’s Rugby World Cup is complete, with Italy, Canada and Wales the victors on day two.

Before we start looking ahead to the second round, let’s first reflect on a few happenings on and off the pitch at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei.

Women’s Rugby World Cup: Day Two Highlights

Nerves of steel

In all honesty, the Wales-Scotland fixture that rounded out the weekend was not a great match. It lacked flow and fluency, with errors and penalties leading to a stop-start contest. Yet it sprung into life in the last ten minutes, delivering the tension and the drama that we need in big tournaments.

First Wales’ Alisha Butchers came close to scoring at one end, then Scotland worked their way to the other as the ill-discipline of those in red allowed them to set the platform for Megan Gaffney to equalise with her second try.

Helen Nelson’s failure from the tee (she missed all five of her place kicks) meant the game seemed to be heading for a draw, only for Wales to be given one last roll of the dice with a penalty in the 84th minute. Keira Bevan backed herself to be the match-winner and duly slotted the winning points.

Cue every red-shirted player mobbing the replacement scrum-half as the assistant referees’ flags were raised. Delight for Wales, despair for Scotland – and the tight finish the World Cup required.

Family affair

Sophie de Goede followed in the stud prints of her parents in leading Canada at a Rugby World Cup and was superb in her team’s win over Japan. Whether securing restarts or kicking for goal, the No 8 is a supremely talented athlete.

The captain may have been disappointed in how her team executed in the “box office” – how Canada describe being in the opposition 22! – but they were still comfortable victors against Japan and will take confidence into their next match against Italy.

Shake on it

Another quirk of Canada’s performance was seeing the handshakes some players performed when coming on/off the pitch.

According to de Goede, players who are regularly subbed for each other will come up with their own routines – and they certainly seem to get creative.

Right notes

Italian players always bring plenty of passion when singing the anthem and this was no exception, the Azzurre linking arms to belt it out. It was a cracking way to start the second day of pool matches.

Sadly there wasn’t quite the same cohesion from the Italy players in much of the first half against the USA, dropped balls and inaccurate passes proving costly, but their potential turned into points in the second period as slick handling helped them secure a 22-10 victory.

The pick of their four tries came from Maria Magatti, who picked a superb line off fly-half Veronica Madia to scythe across the pitch and score in the corner.

On the sidelines, Player of the Match Giada Franco’s mum stole the show!

Space invader

Former USA player turned astronaut Jessica Watkins is currently on the International Space Station on a NASA mission, but that didn’t stop her sending a good luck message to the Eagles ahead of their opening match against Italy.

Mirror image

Okay, this wasn’t in Whangarei or from day two, and we covered the spine-tingling Black Ferns haka in yesterday’s round-up. However, this is well worth a watch.

Les Elder, who captained the Black Ferns on last year’s tour to Europe, is covering the tournament for Spark TV in New Zealand and when the hosts started performing their pre-match haka before the Australia match, Elder did the same from the sidelines.

Head to our Rugby World Cup hub page for all the latest from New Zealand.

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