The kick-off of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will finally be given. The ninth edition, organized in New Zealand, is already placed under the sign of records. On Saturday October 8, the stands of the legendary Eden Park stadium in Auckland will be full. A first in the history of women’s rugby. As a curtain raiser, the XV of France will take its first steps in the competition against South Africa, at 3:15 a.m. (Paris time, on TF1).
The watchword is “regain the taste of combat”, insists coach and trainer Thomas Darracq: a battle to get a place in the final and lift a first trophy. The coronation, the French dream of it, but the reality is that they have never managed to win better than a bronze medal – six in total, in eight editions.
England and New Zealand dominate
Because, it must be admitted, to find a place at the top of world rugby is almost a feat, especially against nations like England or New Zealand. Respectively first and second in the international rankings, the two teams have shared seven of the eight titles since the creation of the competition in 1991. If the French players recently beat the Black Ferns twice – nickname given to the New Zealanders –, their success rate is much lower against the English. Their last success on the Red Roses dates back to March 10, 2018 during the Six Nations Tournament.
This black series, Thomas Darracq hopes to put an end to it in Auckland. In addition to the opposition scheduled for the group stage on October 15 (9 a.m. Paris time), the French women could cross paths with the Red Roses again in the quarter-finals, a novelty introduced by World Rugby this year. To avoid this scenario, the French players will have to win their duels against South Africa and Fiji, two opponents within their reach. “It’s difficult to have a real strategy, but our desire is to start strong to gain confidence and take important points in the race for the classification”, announces the tricolor coach. The first meeting against South Africa seems within reach of the Blues, the last confrontation of the two formations, in November 2021, had seen them win largely 46 to 3.