Just finished watching the Women’s Rugby World Cup finals and I have to say, while I did say it would be a close match, I didn’t think it would be New Zealand 13, England 10 close! And I whiffed it on the score prediction (just another reason I don’t usually do score predicts). The match was exciting and while the Black Ferns racked up three yellow cards in the match (really? Three yellow cards?)
The match started off with both sides facing down in front of the record 13,000+ fans at Twickenham Stoop. The Black Ferns began with the traditional Haka, the Maori war dance performed by New Zealand sports teams before matches, and the English facing them off unafraid during the Haka.
After trading penalty kick misses by New Zealand’s center Kelly Brazier and England’s fly-half Katy McLean, the Black Ferns finally put the first points on the board with less than ten minutes to go before halftime by wing Carla Hohepa. Followed by a successful Brazier conversion kick saw New Zealand carry a 7-0 lead into halftime, after a late penalty kick by McLean bounced off of the upright.
Quickly after the second half began, England finally put their first points on the board from a McLean penalty kick. While the Brits drew the match even at 10-10 with 20 minutes to go, New Zealand squeaked out a win by the luck of Brazier’s boot – as she slotted the winning penalty kick with 15 minutes to go.
The New Zealand All Blacks have been given notice going into the 2011 Rugby World Cup – the women’s team lived up to their end of the deal and now the men need to work up to their potential next year.
As a quick note, I’d like to give the International Rugby Board big props for livestreaming Sky News’ broadcast of some of the Women’s RWC matches, including the championship. It was a great way to help build the women’s rugby fan base and while the broadcast rights to the Men’s RWC have already been locked down (way to go NBC!) I hope there will be a way to catch the matches live online as well.
The scores from the other WRWC matches:
Third Place Match – Australia 22, France 8
Australia racked up their best Women’s RWC finish ever, beating the French 22-8. The Aussies kept it close against England, and except for a few missteps might have seen themselves facing off against the Black Ferns in the finals. Australia stormed out to a 22-3 lead at halftime, but played the second half a bit deflated while the French defense tightened up and held the Aussies scoreless the rest of the match.
Fifth Place Match – United States 23, Canuckistan (Canada) 20
The United States, former Women’s RWC champions in 1991, slipped past Canada in a match that went back and forth throughout the first half. Thanks to a flurry of play, the Eagles found themselves facing an early 3-10 deficit to the team from the Great Frozen North. Thanks to a one-woman advantage, courtesy of Canada’s Sarah Ulmer who was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes, the Eagles took the lead when wing Vanesha McGee hit captain Ashley English for their first try of the game. Although Canada went into the half with a 17-11 lead, the Eagles scored twice in the first ten minutes of the second half to regain and extend their lead, holding on against a furious Canuck onslaught as the game drew to a close.
Seventh Place Match – Ireland 32, Scotland 8
In this face off of Celtic rivals, Scotland never appeared to get their feet solidly underneath them as Ireland sprinted out to a 15-0 lead before the first 20 minutes of play ended. While the Scots scored to cut the lead to 15-5, and started to assert themselves more, adding a three-point penalty kick before halftime to reduce Ireland’s lead to 15-8, Scotland got no closer to victory.
Ninth Place Match – Wales 29, South Africa 17
Wales returned the 15-10 loss they suffered to South Africa during pool play in this years RWC with a ninth-place win, and hopefully a positive mindset to carry into this off-season. Welsh fullback Naomi Thomas scored two tries in the first half and fly-half Awen Thomas took over kicking duties from fly-half Laura Prosser (who was having an off-day with two missed penalty kicks and two missed conversions) to put Wales ahead 17-0 at the break.
11th Place Match – Kazakhstan 12, Sweden 8
In a game that might have made mythical Kazakh reporter Borat smile, the Asian regional champions notched their first win of the 2010 Rugby World Cup campaign with a victory over Sweden. While Kazakhstan, who had not scored a try the entire tournament, finally found the goal line, it was Sweden who was off target – as captain and fly-half Ulrika Andersson-Hall missed three kicks, and replacement Lina Norman missed an additional conversion for the Swedes.