Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Tyrone Howe: Black Ferns’ flair made women’s World Cup pretty to watch

Rugby is a game with its roots firmly steeped in honest analysis and self-reflection.

Waking up on Monday morning, the England women’s rugby team will have known that they simply did not play well enough to merit wresting the World Cup away from their fiercest rivals.

If heart alone could lift a trophy, then the result might have been different, but too many errors and an inability to take advantage of three yellow cards handed out to the Black Ferns undermined England’s efforts.

The women’s team reminded me of their male counterparts who lifted the 2003 World Cup — a team that had been together for a long time, loaded with caps and experience.

Their strengths lay in a formidable forward pack, a bustling scrum-half and kicking 10, with aggressive organised defence at the centre of their gameplan.

Things have moved on since then and the Black Ferns simply had that little bit of class and creative flair that currently identifies the All Blacks.

When it mattered most, New Zealand, chasing a fourth consecutive World Cup victory, played better, more composed rugby, especially when they were players down. This was a side who knew exactly how to close out the match.

Amidst the intensity, there were glimpses of quality, above all from wing, Carla Hohepa, who was the outstanding player of the tournament.

The perception of those with little interest or respect for the women’s game will surely have changed and the 13,000 spectators at the Stoop on Sunday were treated to a dramatic 80 minutes. Women’s rugby is well and truly on the radar and 2014 can’t come soon enough.

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