The New Zealand Black Ferns women’s rugby team are on their way to Ireland. They will touchdown, and be immediately into preparations for the eighth edition of the Women’s Rugby World Cup – beginning August 9.
They, along with the other ten visiting sides, will descend on Ireland for the pinnacle of women’s International rugby. 12 teams will each ready themselves for the opening round, and for the Black Ferns, they are looking to avenge the 2014 World Cup result.
2014 RWC Final: England 21 Canada 9
Notice anything? New Zealand were not in the final. And for the 2017 Black Ferns team, that is the most important factor in their motivation. Carla Hohepa, who was a part of that unsuccessful campaign, spoke on how the group felt motivated.
“The girls missed out on the last World Cup. We won 2010, so I guess it’s a bit of redemption.”
After the 14-17 loss to Ireland, plus the drawn match for England and Canada, the fall out was that New Zealand did not progress. Even though it was an spectacular failure, the side certainly had the talent. Gladly, many of the same faces will be back on August 9.
All hail Ireland for their epic upset of the New Zealand Black Ferns. Women's RWC 2014 is officially wide open.
And while the WRWC format of pool play and then an immediate semifinal, may have been the cause that the side did not qualify in 2014 [on points], recent form indicates that the Black Ferns arrive in Ireland as one of the leading sides.
The most recent matches; played in late June and including the curtain-raiser game to the Maori All Blacks v British and Irish Lions, gave the team a good understanding of their strengths. Coach Glenn Moore will have examined the 21-29 loss, and the training camp just before the squad left new Zealand, will have been about the ‘what and how’ to improve.
What can the Black Ferns do differently now, to what they did in 2014?
Plenty, in as such as taking it on as a challenge, and to use a ‘fear of failure’ as a powerful tool. Knowing your opposition is crucial too.
Captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili told The Rugby Paper “England have done their homework and been together for quite a while. With England we have to make sure to shut them down early – particularly upfront.”
Fa’amausili is a five-time World Cup veteran, while others are in their second or third tournament. Add to that, all the international rugby experience, and the group have a better grasp of the expectations.
With the New Zealand Black Ferns looking to avenge 2014 World Cup results, learning and adapting is a key attribute. Game plans are all well and fine, but as the team experienced in 2010, a yellow card or two, can apply pressure. Discipline is key, as is using your team mates to build an internal confidence.
New Zealand Uses Experience of XV’s and 7’s Players
The mix of players in the Black Ferns not only represents the best of the provincial sides, but also sevens (7’s) players who have reached the qualified standard. This includes the try scoring weapon Portia Woodman and ‘Sevens Sisters’ captain Sarah Goss.
She was asked by OneNewsSport on Monday what value she could bring to the squad, Goss answered; “Yeah, any top game is tough. For us it’s about offering the girls who have never played in those [type] of games and the best that we can do is; do the basics and do our job, and everyone else does theirs as well.”
Asked about ticking off the boxes, in her achievements wearing the Silver Fern: HSBC Women’s Sevens Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens title, Goss was quick to answer affirmatively. “Obviously we won the Sevens World Cup in 2013, and if we could get a XV’s one as well, that would be pretty awesome as well.”
New Zealand Black Ferns Provided Increased Resources
A key to success maybe the increase in resources and support given to the team, by New Zealand Rugby. That would be as much because of failure in 2014, but also due to the game developing so far. Underlined by the Farah Palmer Cup competition, the sport is healthy, and the team are in a great position.
The coach named a 51 strong wider training squad back in February. From that point up until now, the focus has been on providing every player the case to make their case. Why they wanted to play, and what that women could add to the group. As each player in the final touring group ‘ticked those boxes’ the management were supported by NZ rugby.
That also saw multiple camps, including the use of hubs around the country, training groups and a well organized approached. That included the Women’s Sevens coaching group. Sarah Goss, Portia Woodman and others focused solely on the WRWC, all the while the Sevens Sisters achieved another series title. It showed the focus on XV’s across the board.
With the fortune of a Pool with (all due respect given) only one demanding match, the New Zealand Black Ferns team can build into the 2017 tournament with a positive outlook. Can they progress? The chances are high, but in any tournament ‘first you must get through pool play’. And every other side will be searching to take that ‘big scalp’ home.
What are the chances of them being beaten/not qualifying? That is rather low–but not out of the imagination. Just ask fans of South Africa in 2015. But in all reality, everything looks good for the New Zealand Black Ferns to avenge the 2014 World Cup result.
The first match of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off on Wednesday, August 9.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images