Twin victories; and powerful wins over their Rugby World Cup rivals, mean that this latest Red Roses win has sealed the England women’s favouritism for RWC2021 above their rivals, New Zealand.
Record wins at that. 56-15. Another record-winning margin over the current World Champions. And following on from the previous week’s record Red Roses win of 43-12 at Sandy Park.
The highlights package below is more evidence that the well-oiled machine that is the England women’s rugby team, had much more practice and precision than their undercooked opponents. Showing signs of their lack of high-level rugby, they were less than equal and the New Zealand side now clearly sits below their hosts (in World Rugby rankings), as much as in confidence. The Red Roses are on top of their game.
Red Roses win seals favouritism for RWC2021
Voices across the two hemispheres have reacted similarly. Glowing praise of the professionalism and style of play from the English players, and grave concerns for the normally feared Black Ferns. The two highly fancied title contenders for the re-scheduled RWC2021 – postponed, until October 2022 – had been promised as a challenge each would exceed at yet, the New Zealand side have badly underperformed twice.
Should it be accepted, that after nearly 2 years of International competition; with only some domestic rugby to prepare the side, Les Elder and her team were soundly defeated across two weekends. In fact, it is the first time since 2012 that England have beaten New Zealand in consecutive test matches.
With this latest Red Roses win, the victors are comfortably positioned as World Rugby’s leading women’s representative team. Extending their lead over New Zealand, which they attained mid-November last season. This 2021 Red Roses win, was the side’s 16th consecutive win and has Simon Middleton’s group on the ‘highest of highs’.
Credit must be given to the entire squad. Three-try heroine Amy Cokayne spoke about the side’s goals (even after being named Player of the Day). “All week long we’ve been talking about, it’s not just about one performance, it’s about how we back it up”. Even more crucial, when in a tournament like a World Cup or Six Nations, ‘backing up’ means two, three, or up to five matches must be played one after the other. So simply hitting repeat is not good enough – as New Zealand has found.
This will come as a shock to many global rugby fans, who would have believed the Black Ferns were close to being unbeatable. Sadly, with less rugby under their belts, New Zealand was outplayed. Badly shown-up in reacting to set play and formulating attack, which will put head coach Glenn Moore under fierce pressure to head to France for his side’s next two games, with new strategies.
Meanwhile, England must keep their motor engaged. Another match against Canada at The Stoop will allow for some squad rotation. But expect the same high standards to remain. To keep their foot firmly planted on the accelerator and continue to improve. On show Sunday, were highly skilled players like Cokayne, Zoe Harrison, Abby Dow (see main photo) and leader Sarah Hunter. She followed up her statement that the Red Roses would ‘do their talking on the field’ against New Zealand.
Two record wins over the Black Ferns have answered that message and more!
Going into the 2022 Six Nations championship, England has firmed as favourites for RWC2021 over the team who had appeared the likeliest to challenge them on home soil. Not after these two matches, they are no longer the threat many had predicted.
“Main photo credit”
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