High tempo rugby was just too much for our girls to handle
Iam so gutted for England but New Zealand deserved to win that final on the back of an incredible second half. New Zealand had a fairly straight forward route to the final while England had that tough semi-final against France on Tuesday, but the only game that matters is the final and when the two best teams of the tournament met, New Zealand came out on top.
They say you need to confrom trol the pace of the game and England simply couldn’t do it in the second half. The Black Ferns scored just before half-time and it was constant wave after wave after that.
England were really good and never took a step back in defence but New Zealand played with such an intensity that there was no way England could live up to it. England missed Daniel Watermann at full-back and I guess we’ll never know but she could have made a big difference.
The Red Roses are used to playing at a slower pace, using their forwards to carry and dent the opposition defence but they weren’t allowed to do that by New Zealand who knew they’d lose the game if it slowed down.
I thought that England had the game worked out 20 minutes in but New Zealand managed to turn things around incredibly hard and they were magnificent.
Their pack was outstanding recycling the ball quickly to keep the tempo as high as possible and they were helped by some wayward kicking out of hand Katy McLean and Emily Scarratt. That just handed New Zealand the ball back and didn’t give the England forwards any rest.
Loosehead Toka Natua was brilliant all game and her big shift was rewarded by a hat-trick, but for me it
“New Zealand played with such intensity that there was no way England could live up to it”
was the back row that won New Zealand the game. Aroha Savage was outstanding ball in hand while Sarah Goss was everywhere on the pitch apart from the ten minutes she was in the bin.
I’m not sure why England coach Simon Middleton made so many changes so early in the game because it disrupted England. I think that was an error on his part.
Playing a World Cup is all about winning it, so losing in the final will be seen as a failure by the players and potentially the RFU who have invested a lot of money in it. There will be a lot of questions needing answers but right now I want to focus on the positive.
It was amazing to see the like of tighthead Sarah Bern and centre Megan Jones have such a good tournament and they are definitely the stars of the future. Alex Mathews was immense and she’s becoming a true leader in this team with the likes of veterans Tamara Taylor, Rochelle Clark, Rachael Burford, and Waterman who will be thinking about whether they’ll go to the next World Cup in 2021 or not.
One thing is certain I don’t want women’s rugby to fall back under the radar like it did in 2014 after England won in France.
The focus will move back to Sevens with the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup next year but there is room for both versions of the game and everyone has to pull in the same direction.
We have the new domestic competition kicking off this season and I hope it keeps 15s in the limelight for the next couple of years at least.
It was amazing to see the final being broadcast line on terrestrial television and even better on prime time on a Saturday.
It had to be the most viewed match in the history of women’s rugby and there would have been young girls and boys watching this and hopefully they’ll want to pick up a ball today and start playing.
Fine tournament: Sarah Bern hands off the Black Ferns
Changes: Coach Simon Middleton