The media is still coming to terms with the fact that it has meither knowledge nor expertise in its ranks to write about women's rugby
— George Hook (@ghook) August 18, 2014
NEW YORK, NY – The greatest Women’s Rugby World Cup to date has finally come to an end. It has been a joyous and incredible event for the women’s game. The performances by many of the sides should help elevate the game of rugby in their nation and the aid the cause of women’s rugby. We will look at the final results, the crossroads for each participant and the Team of the Tournament.
Before we dig in, though, we’d like to put our boots to the above George Hook Tweet, criticizing the WRWC media coverage. At the risk of shamelessly tooting of our own horns, we’d say we did – or tried to do – our part. Our coverage began with the RWU rugby mom, of the tournament and her declaration of belief in the USA‘s title hopes. This was followed by our French rugby expert-du-jour sounding the alarm bells at the lack of WRWC coverage in France itself. Then we covered the WRWC and every matchday, either in individual articles (such as this one) or with brief analysis in the Weekend Preview and Weekend Recap. We also recommend checking out the in-depth experts at Scrumqueens & Your Scrumhalf Connection. However, as our friends at Scrumqueens tweeted to us, “If the media did their jobs then we wouldn’t be needed.” So, while we’re fond of Mr. Hook, we want our friend to know that some of us are fighting the good fight!
Earlier in the tournament during pool play, when England and Canada faced off, the match ended as a draw. The rematch at Paris’ Stade Jean Bouin was just as intense but England managed to convert more of their opportunities. England managed to score two tries and Canada wasn’t able to answer that output. Emily Scarratt of England and Magali Harvey, who won the 2014 IRB Player of the Year award after the match, were even on 3 penalty kicks, but Scarratt was able to score a try and Danielle Waterman added one as well, which accounted for the difference. With points at a premium, that slight edge in attack against a tenacious defending side, was the deciding factor for England.
The 3rd place matches in most tournaments can be either a mixed bag of all-out attack or a dire contest of teams going through the motions after a semi-final loss. This affair, however, was between France and Ireland – a match-up of 6 Nations rivals. Score-wise, this would be the tightest match of the day. It resembled a heavyweight fight; both sides gave as good as they got. With the match tied and heading for the hooter, the French found a way to score a try at the death to secure the victory. The heartbreak was similar to that of Ireland’s near victory against the AIG New Zealand All Blacks in November 2013. The only question left is who was France residing Irishman, , rooting for? (His answer is in the comments section).
The AIG New Zealand Black Ferns came within 3 points of qualifying for the championship semi-finals and bounced back from that loss with equal measures of focus and ruthlessness. Unfortunately for the USA Eagles, they got to experience the full force of Black Fern anger. The Ferns laid waste to an Eagle side that though young, looked capable of a good fight. However, the fire and rage inside the Ferns burned hotter than anyone could have foreseen.
This was a unique battle. Australia came painfully short with a missed kick at the death in their semi-final match against the USA. Could they raise their game to face Wales? Finishing 7th would be a fair position for the Wallaroos, as they are part of the teams chasing England and New Zealand in women’s test rugby. The Welsh ladies showed up for a fight and put in a good shift but they had no answer to the Aussie attack as the Wallaroos cruised to victory.
Spain continued to press. They moved from the rear in women’s rugby to the chasing pack. South Africa had no answers to the questions asked by the Spanish attack. Combine that with South Africa being unable to ask any questions of the Spanish defense and a one sided shut out is what you got.
Kazakhstan and Samoa played what, for lack of better words, could be considered a statement game. Both sides were just happy to have qualified for the WRWC. Now with all of that done and one game left, what do the players, coaches and supporters want to be the main takeaway from this adventure? Samoa made their message loud and clear as they blanked Kazakhstan en route to an easy victory. They are a team that has the potential to go far in future world cups. Kazakhstan showed great passion and fight throughout the tournament but sometimes that just ain’t enough.
What does this tournament mean for each nation going forward? Well let’s take a look based on how they finished:
1) England – Over recent years, the women’s game in England has had resurgence and winning the WRWC can only help improve that.
2) Canada – Rugby Canada is in a tricky spot.They must find a way to turn the energy and patriotism generated into better player development and sponsorships over the next year or so. All the while, not abandoning their Olympic 7s focus.
3) France – This finish and the great hosting of the tournament will do Les Feminines good. Hopefully it will provide increased media coverage during the 6N and garner more investment and sponsorship for the program.
4) Ireland – Finishing 4th and hopefully with the likes of George Hook shaming the media and the nation for their lack of coverage and support, will lead to a ground swell of investment and raise the profile of the women’s game.
5) New Zealand – We may need to ring our resident Kiwi, Jamie Wall, on this. After years of dominance there might be enough concern to see the Ferns success be a greater priority and re-vamping of player development and recruiting.
6) USA – Sad to say but residing in the US, we are not sure. With a shoestring budget and an intense focus on the Men’s game in 15s and 7s,the ladies have had to function off of scraps. They may have to continue to do more with less, until they have a major scalp, to garner national attention.
7) Australia – The 15s game seems to be at odds with the 7s game in the fight for budget money, with 7s winning. Hopefully, there can be a bit more attention paid to the 15s game but they may be in the same boat as the Americans.
8) Wales – The WRU is a mess right now so don’t expect things to get better anytime soon. Expect them sort out the men’s professional game before they get to improved player recruitment, development, coaching and everything else.
9) Spain – The Spanish economy is in poor shape. It is finding funding for the men’s 7s program to be tough, so fair play to these ladies for doing what they have done already. I believe a dedicated focus on recruiting will be the most important.
10) South Africa – This will be good for the game. They are far behind their SANZAR counterparts and the South African competitive nature should see some smarter investment in the women’s game from the SARU.
11) Samoa – Participating in this tournament has garnered the women respect. Can it be turned into more funding? That may be difficult to see as funding, in general, is tough. However, it is likely that just by making it this far, they can expect more young girls to be drawn to this great game.
12) Kazakhstan – Women’s sports is on an uptrend in the country and just making it here was positive publicity for them. There will be an increase in new players as they have sparked a fire in young hearts and minds about representing Kazakhstan and winning games.
#WRWC2014 Dream Team
When a team of the tournament is picked it can lead to favoritism, especially when chosen by fans. But even so-called experts can mess things up. Witness Kieran Read winning IRB Player of the Year over Leigh Halfpenny. The WRWC Dream team was picked by the fans. It is a bit true to form in that only one player wasn’t on a top 4 side. There are players on New Zealand, USA and Australia that can feel hard done by but as usual in sport, as the team goes so do individual accolades.
15. Niamh Briggs (IRE)
14. Magali Harvey (CAN)
13. Emily Scarratt (ENG)
12. Andrea Burk (CAN)
11. Honey Hireme (NZL)
10. Sandrine Agricole (FRA)
9. Stephanie Bernier (CAN)
8. Kelly Russell (CAN)
7. Maggie Alphonsi (ENG)
6. Safi N’Diaye (FRA)
5. Assa Koita (FRA)
4. Marie Louise Reilly (IRE)
3. Hilary Leith (CAN)
2. Gillian Bourke (IRE)
1. Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid (CAN)
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp,Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.
….And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.