The Northland Age

Eden Park is Ferns’ field of dreams


These days, when reality is often both harsh and overwhelmi­ng, it can be difficult to just suspend that everyday circumstan­ce and take a leap of faith.

To take a jump into joy. To grasp a moment.

To gain liftoff with other people in the community and the nation as everyone collective­ly hopes for something special. To show our better selves to one another and the world.

That happened on Saturday night when the Black Ferns willed a Rugby World Cup win to life.

And people at Eden Park, and Kiwis watching at home, willed them to do it.

It was a performanc­e that went beyond days, weeks and months of collective physical, mental and tactical hard work.

Facing what everyone knew to be a formidable, powerful, and classy team from England, this was always going to require intense preparatio­n — and an extra dose of spirit.

An extra hug of belief between members of the team, and from the team of people looking on.

As talented and strong as the Black Ferns were at the weekend, they knew they were up against it — a team in white on a 30-test unbeaten run. It’s not as though England had looked down on form in the tournament. On the contrary, they were playing with both power and flair, scoring an end-to-end try against Canada in their semifinal.

Even though it was the Black Ferns’ sixth World Cup title, this one involved climbing personal Everests for the players. A year ago, the Black Ferns were at the bottom with a daunting path ahead, beaten by England and France in record defeats. The coach resigned. The World Cup dream appeared in tatters.

In stepped a humble genius of New Zealand rugby, Wayne

Smith, and the fightback began.

To win this trophy, the Black Ferns had to overcome both France and England.

In triumphing after adversity, this team of champions, with some champion performers among them, gave a gift to a country that has also been through a tough year.

With Covid’s physical and mental stresses, to the financial strains of trying to make ends meet, people have been through a lot. On Saturday the Black Ferns thrillingl­y gave us the feeling that adversity can be overcome, and the thought that we have the people among us who can get the job done — and also the belief that collective­ly we played a part in this moment.

After years of being very successful yet still somewhat in the shadow of their male peers, it was the women on centre stage the crowd showed up to see and wholeheart­edly support.

They gave the team their backing and belief without reservatio­n. And the team fused that belief and rose to the occasion.

In the end, Eden Park was the Black Ferns’ field of dreams. And we won’t forget it.

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