Mud and guts

Rugby women show how it’s done.

New Zealand Listener - - THIS LIFE -

If the All Blacks wanted an in­sight into what lay in store for them at Twick­en­ham last week­end, where they won 16-15, they just had to watch the Black Ferns’ test against France in Toulon the night be­fore.

Our women have been so suc­cess­ful of late that it was quite a shock to see them phys­i­cally dom­i­nated and tac­ti­cally ex­posed through­out a score­less first half. There used to be a say­ing in English club rugby that you didn’t know what a player was made of un­til you’d seen how he han­dled him­self on a wet Wed­nes­day night in [insert name of whichever Welsh club was, at the time, par­tic­u­larly renowned for its play­ers’ and sup­port­ers’ blood-lust].

Well, it was a filthy night at Stade Mayol, the ground was a bog, the op­po­si­tion were fired up and play­ing the con­di­tions ex­pertly, the New Zealand scrum was go­ing back­wards and pre­cious lit­tle else was go­ing right, the ref­eree was de­tect­ing pe­nal­is­able of­fences al­most as of­ten as the crowd and we found out what the Black Ferns are made of: tough stuff.

The Black Ferns were un­de­ni­ably for­tu­nate to be still on level terms at half­time, but they did what strong-minded, com­mit­ted teams do: they “flushed the dunny”, as Steve Hansen would say, ad­justed their tac­tics, went back out into the mud and rain, got stuck in and ran in two con­verted tries to beat the French 14-0. You could call it win­ning ugly; it was cer­tainly vic­tory earned the hard way and all the sweeter for that.

And this week­end, in Greno­ble, they have to try to do it all over again.

Rua­hei De­mant on the at­tack in the Black Ferns’ first test against France.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.