New Zealand defeats England in Rugby World Cup Final

New Zealand won the women’s rugby World Cup, defeating England 34-31 in Auckland to become the tournament’s first host nation to do so. The Black Ferns won their sixth World Cup victory on 12.11.2022 amidst thousands of poi in the air. A record-breaking crowd at Eden Park cheered as New Zealand made an incredible comeback with a team that coach Wayne Smith labelled as the finest of all time. The match had all the excitement: several attempts, a red card, a great comeback, and a hattrick that enthralled the spectators and audiences.

Within minutes into the game, England stormed to a 14-0 lead, but the match was overturned when England’s Lydia Thompson was sent off with a red card three minutes into the game for a head-on-head collision with Aotearoa’s Portia Woodman. What ensued was the Red Roses’ second consecutive World Cup final loss to New Zealand’s Black Ferns.

Black Ferns performing the Haka before the commencement of their match. (Photo: RNZ)

New Zealand hosts Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup was scheduled to be held in New Zealand from September 18 to October 16, 2021, in Auckland and Whangarei. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition was postponed to 2022.

According to Warner Bros, close to 1.3million people tuned in to watch the coverage on the tournament’s free-to-air broadcaster Three.

Black Ferns fans supporting their match. (Photo: Photosport/ Andrew Cornaga)

History of Women’s Rugby

Rugby is a fast-paced field-based contact sport that requires technical skill and physical fitness. It entails running, tackling and scrummaging.

The history of women in rugby is as obscure as the history of rugby as a sport. There is relatively little information available on how and when women began playing rugby. What is known is that in 1884, Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Ireland, founded the school’s first rugby team, which featured a young lady named Emily Valentine, who became the first official woman to play rugby.

There is documentation of an effort to form a women’s touring team in New Zealand in 1891; however, this was halted owing to social unacceptability, and the squad was forced to disband.

Initially, women had to play the sport in private to escape public scrutiny and cultural difficulties. It is not until 1917 that the first formal charity match between female teams, Cardiff Ladies and Newport Ladies, is documented at Cardiff Arms Park.

It was not until after World War II, when women’s roles altered, that women’s rugby began to thrive. The first reported women’s rugby union team was formed at Edinburgh University in 1962 and Canada and the Netherlands were the first to establish non-university rugby clubs in 1978.

Twenty years later, in 1998, the Women’s Rugby World Cup was fully sanctioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB). The tournament was held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and was the first Women’s World Championship outside Great Britain.

The tournament had 16 participating teams. There was no qualification process, and teams were invited to participate by the IRB. In the final, New Zealand beat the United States 44-12.

According to the 2018 world rugby year review, women’s rugby has grown significantly, with roughly 2.7 million participants globally and a 28% rise in registered players since 2017.

What are the Star Players of the 1998 Women’s Rugby World Cup doing now?

Former captain of New Zealand’s 1998 Rugby team, Dr Farah Rangikoepa Palmer, is now the Executive Director for Māori Student Success, at Massey University. She used her experiences in administration and academics to transform narratives about Māori, women and girls, leadership, sports, and business. Palmer was one of six female awardees honoured by the IRB Hall of Fame on November 17, 2014. The Women’s Provincial Championship was renamed the Farah Palmer Cup in 2016, in her honour.

Dr Farah Rangikoepa Palmer (Photo: Soundcloud)

Melodie Robinson was a member of the Black Ferns’ winning teams in two world cups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from the University of Otago. Then, in 1996, she graduated from Wellington Polytechnic with a diploma in journalism. In 2019, Robinson was named TVNZ’s new General Manager, Sports and Events. She is currently a sportswriter and television host.

Melodie Robinson (Photo: Stuff)

Louisa Hareruia was a former Labour Party politician and a member of parliament from 2011 to 2022. She has represented Aotearoa in netball as well as rugby. She is representative of the LGBTQA+ community and flies the rainbow flag with pride in her house.

Louisa Hareruia (Photo: Wikipedia)

Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Auckland.