In a rematch of the 2014 World Cup final, England will face the Canadians. The French tried to stop New Zealand from winning, but they were unable to stop them.
For Saturday’s double-header at Eden Park in Auckland, which will also host a final one week later, a full house is expected.
England has a 29-Test winning streak, a record both for men’s and ladies’ rugby. They have won the women’s Rugby World Cup twice in 1994 and 2014 and have been in five finals. This year they are hot favorites to win the trophy.
Simon Middleton, England’s coach, said that New Zealand was his team’s goal in the final.
Middleton said, “To play in the Black Ferns at Eden Park, in a World Cup Final in their country, when the holders — that’s pretty much all you can do as a player. He believes any other outcome than England winning the World Cup is a failure.”
“But that’s about it. Canada is our formidable enemy. We have to get there.
England’s veteran captain Sarah Hunter (37), will make her 139th Test debut. She knows that Canada’s 23-year-old all-action skipper Sophie de Goede must be on her side.
She’s a tremendous talent. She takes care of everything. She is captain, calls their line outs, and kicks their goals,” Hunter, co-captain of England’s 2014 World Cup win, said.
“They look at her so it’s all about how they can eliminate that threat.”
Canada coach Kevin Rouet wants England to be upset.
He said, “If we achieve success in the scrum and the maul, and kicking battles, that’s where it’s possible to just make them think, ‘Oh, this won’t be easy.”
‘Do or die’
New Zealand’s holders have won the women’s Rugby World Cup five times. They won big in their victories over Australia, Scotland, and Wales to reach the final four.
France beat New Zealand in all four of their previous meetings, with heavy back-to back wins on French soil.
Wayne Smith, former assistant coach to All Blacks, has seen a significant improvement in the Black Ferns’ performance. Ruthie Demant, the playmaker for New Zealand, said that New Zealand should expect to score whenever they get the ball.
She said, “I think that the French should be concerned.” She added that France’s team “defended with heart” and had kept England at bay for long periods, before falling 13-7 to England in their group match.
“The exciting brand of rugby we will be playing is the game plan that we have to defeat them. This is the business end of this tournament. Every game is final. You can’t do it again next week if you don’t succeed this week.
France coach Thomas Darracq foresaw the Black Ferns feeling pressure at home. He said that recent French victories over New Zealand would have impacted the hosts’ aura.
“I hope the stadium will be full. This will motivate us. He said that the New Zealanders will be under pressure in any case.
“For a very, long time, they were always referred to as “the New Zealand Ogres” — we didn’t play them much. There was the haka, and all its culture, with its force, power, and force.
“Today, all of that has been toned down because they play them more often and we beat them recently too.”
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