I felt as soon as we got that first try in the second half, I knew we had it. Black Ferns half back, Kendra Cocksedge
Women’s rugby comes of age
By Roger Childs
There was a time when rugby was considered too rough for women and girls; best left to the male of the species.
Then, when it started officially, there was scant media interest and games looked as bad as male college staff trying to beat the top girls’ netball team.
But those days are gone. Last Saturday, in front of a large enthusiastic crowd, the amateur Black Ferns comfortably beat the professional English team 41-32 to take the World Cup. It was rugby of high quality.
The rise of the female game
Women’s rugby has blossomed in the 21st century at the college, provincial and international levels.
From the start the Black Ferns were very competitive in the test arena and have done well in sevens.
At the Rio Olympics last year there was heartbreak when in the final against Australia, one of New Zealand greatest ever players, Portia Woodman, deliberately knocked the ball down, was sent off and cost her team gold.
On Saturday another yellow card, this time for a dangerous tackle, threatened to derail the Black Fern’s bid for World Cup glory and allowed the English to take a first half lead.
A well deserved victory
However, the Kiwi women were not to be denied. Whereas in their last encounter which the English won comfortably, the New Zealand forwards were pushed around, this time the boots were on the other feet.
The Black Fern won the battle in the tight and the player of the match was prop forward Toka Natua who scored a hat trick of tries. It was still a closely fought contest and the English had their moments.
In the first half Selica Winiata had score a brilliant try down the right flank. Then late in the second half English winger Lydia Thompson showed tremendous speed to run 60 metres on the same side of the field for an outstanding individual try.
In the end the best team won: the Kiwi scored seven tries to four in the 41-32 victory. This time around the media has been taking notice; games were broadcast live on television and there was a great crowd at the final.
Hopefully the success of the Black Ferns in the 2107 World Cup will result in the New Zealand Rugby Union investing more money in the rapidly growing women’s game.