The match was sold out. For good reason: Saturday, November 12, at home, at Eden Park in Auckland, the New Zealanders faced the English, the first in the world rankings, in the final of the Rugby World Cup.
The meeting lived up to expectations, spectacular and intense, rich in eleven tries. At the end of the suspense, the Black Ferns (“the black ferns”) won 34-31 against the Red Roses (“the red roses”) – outnumbered for much of the game – winning the sixth crown in their history in the competition.
Ruby Tui’s teammates thus retain their title, won in 2017, already to the detriment of England, world champion in 2014. They also put an end to the long series of invisibility of their opponents: thirty successes in a row and a last defeat dating back to July 2019 against… New Zealand.
A rugby demonstration
This Saturday, on the ground, the two nations gave a demonstration of rugby. Suspense, tension, play and a shower of tests, delighting the more than 42,000 spectators at Eden Park. The English were reduced to fourteen from the 18e minute after the red card given to winger Lydia Thompson for an uncontrolled tackle on Kiwi winger Portia Woodman, who was then injured. With unlucky kickers on both sides, Emily Scarratt on the English side and Renee Holmes on the Kiwi side, each team could only count on its most offensive players.
Very quickly, the Red Roses wanted to leave their mark on this final, with a try scored in the third minute by their back Ellie Kildunne. Thanks to their science of carrying the balls and a remarkable pack of forwards, they continued their momentum, the hooker Amy Cokayne signing the first (13e) of his three tries, quickly imitated by third-line Marlie Packer (21e).
The New Zealanders then recovered. First by hooker Georgia Ponsonby (18e), then by winger Ayesha Leti-l’iga (25e), barely back in place of Woodman. The debates began to balance out, each team surrendering blow for blow: after a second try from Cokayne (32e), the fourth already on the English side, the Black Ferns responded with pillar Amy Rhule (40e), allowing the locals to pick up the score at half-time (26-19 for the English).
No time to breathe for the public of Eden Park, white-hot, and the New Zealanders chained two tries, by their center Stacey Fluhler (41e) then by their replacement hooker Krystal Murray (49e), to pass in front of the scoreboard (29-26).
Ruby Tui’s teammates then seemed to take the game in hand, but England, by Cokayne, still her (54e), gave the English women a two-point lead (31-29, 54e).
The last minutes of the meeting were punctuated by tensions between players, until the test of the deliverance signed Ayesha Leti-l’iga, for her double (71e)… and the victory that made the spectators exult.