The clock is counting down. As Day Four of the 2017 Rugby World Cup restarts the competition today, the Women’s teams will all feel the nerves. Over the last two weeks, sides have established their credentials, and the four strongest teams survive to tackle the Women’s Rugby World Cup Semifinals.
2017 Rugby World Cup Semifinals – Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
16:00 GMT – New Zealand v USA
18:45 GMT – England v France
Both matches will be just as intense. The goal is the same, as all four sides have goals and ambitions to be World Champions no doubt. But there can be only one!
Last Word on Rugby will report on these results, so before the day reveals who can proceed to the Rugby World Cup final, we focus on the selections which will run out.
Semifinal #1 – NZLvUSA
Top qualifier, perennial favourite and exceeding all Rugby World Cup points scoring records, the New Zealand team go in as an all conquering favourite. And to underline that, head coach Glenn Moore has gone with the same starting XV.
Here is your 23-strong #BlackFerns team to play USA in the Rugby World Cup semifinal.
Facing up to the four-time champions, are the surprise entrant, the United States. While always a strong challenge, many will have favoured their North American neighbours Canada. But when the Canadian side were paired in the same pool as New Zealand, the fourth place became the most coveted placing in Ireland.
The US Eagles women’s team secured that spot, by denying England a winning bonus (47-26). Even coming off a loss, fans will expect the US women to be committed, and willing. And they may have the toughest test, in the Women’s World Cup semifinals.
Semifinal #2 – ENGvFRA
World Champions, England have done everything they would have intended. The top seed compiled a healthy three wins, and while the Black Ferns have re-written records, England are the picture of confidence heading to game two at Kingspan Stadium.
If one match can be called the real ‘showdown’ than this match is it. France bring a real contest–more so than in the Women’s Six Nations championship. That is then, and this is now.
Some believe that the domination by England, and more so by New Zealand, has limited the games attraction. The French team come from outside the ‘top shelf’ and may harness an urgency that cannot be contained. It looks to be one game which could change on a call; an intercept; or even a set move. It could be the most exciting contest yet.
While plenty of predictions can be found online and in print, LWOR cannot pass judgement. The four strongest sides certainly survived. Each showed the form and calibre that made them each worthy to face the Women’s Rugby World Cup semifinals, but it is no ‘guessing game’.
Any prediction is only subjective. Teams that reach this knockout stage must now have a singular focus. Of course, England and New Zealand may hold all the cards, but ‘never bet on anything other than excitement’.
This is a world cup, so a world crown is on the line. Anything can happen.
And today the large audience; both spectators at Kingspan Stadium and through all multi-media platforms, shall all enjoy the best women’s rugby can deliver.
Whomever the finalists are, it will be one of the most competitive Women’s Rugby World Cups in memory.
“Main photo credit”
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