Mud and guts
Rugby women show how it’s done.
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.