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Amy Rule: From 'culture shock' of first Test to winning the World Cup

By Adam Julian
Amy Rule of the New Zealand Black Ferns poses for a portrait after winning the Rugby World Cup 2021 final match between New Zealand and England at Eden Park, on November 12, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Amy Rule conceded she wasn’t ready for international rugby in November 2021 when the Black Ferns toured the UK and France.

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In March 2023 she was “ugly crying” as she returned to her old school, Aparima College in Riverton, Southland with the Rugby World Cup.

“Debuting on that tour was a culture shock but it made me excited that I had so much to learn,” Rule told RugbyPass.

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“I decided after that tour I had to be the best version of myself on and off the field. I needed to be an athlete.

“Sometimes as a prop, we’re put into a box. Scrum is all you need. I wanted to be fitter, faster, stronger, and contribute all around the park.

Rule started five of the six Black Ferns matches in their World Cup triumph. She is the spine of the Matatu front row in Super Rugby Aupiki and in March will head to Canberra to play for the Brumbies in Super Rugby W.

“Natalie Delamere played for the Waratahs last year and I thought that’s pretty cool. I’m going to Australia to branch out a wee bit, challenge myself against new opposition and play a different style of rugby.

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“It’s a bit of a risk but I’m only young and I’ve had the same coaches and teammates for four years. One of the things I love about rugby is connecting with new people.”

The Black Ferns beat Australia four times in 2022 but Rule believes the sport is growing across the Tasman.

“The Wallaroos have consistently built. The more time you spend together the more competitive you become, and they showcased that last year. They’ve got some wicked props over there who run all day. I hope I can keep up.”

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Of more immediate concern to Rule is Super Rugby Aupiki. Matatu started the competition with their first-ever win 33-31 against the Blues on Saturday.

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Matatu was ahead 33-12 only for the Blues to launch a furious fightback. With the last play of the game Blues’ first-five Ruahei Demant missed a conversion attempt which would have sent the game into extra time.

“It’s so competitive now those one-percenters make the difference. Some of us didn’t even realise if she got the kick, we were headed to golden point. It was pretty hectic.

“In pre-season, we tried a lot of things that weren’t connecting. It was exciting on Saturday that improved but then I think the Blues stepped it up and said, ‘this isn’t good enough.’

“With short turnarounds and little pre-season, you must take more risks to create more opportunities. We’re lucky at Matatu we’ve got a lot of connections in the forwards because we’ve played a lot of rugby together but I think Saturday showed that this competition is close and momentum can shift really quickly.”

This weekend Matatu will seek to continue their winning form against Hurricanes Poua in Christchurch. The Poua was demolished in the first round by reigning champions Chiefs Manawa 53-21. Rule is weary of a Hurricanes fightback.

“They’ve got some absolute weapons in there so sticking to the game plan, shutting down their threats, and grinding for the full 80 will be crucial.”

The Poua beat Matatu 45-26 in pre-season with prolific Black Ferns winger Ayesha Leti-I’iga scoring three tries.

Leti-I’iga scored the winning try in the World Cup final on November 12, 2022, against England at Eden Park. A less celebrated, but equally important try was that scored by Rule just before halftime. The Black Ferns deficit was reduced from a dozen to a converted try.

“I’m never usually in the back of the maul. I’m usually a shield for the hooker. For some reason, I thought I’m going to grab this ball and I looked up and I second guessed it, which is terrible in an international game, you don’t have time to think you’ve got to do, but when I looked up, I was like ‘is that the try line?’ ‘Am I supposed to score this?’ It’s very unnatural for me, but I thought let’s give this a crack.

“It was an awesome way to finish the half. England had been scoring mauls on us all day so to get one back on them after working on it all year was awesome. It was like, ‘we’ve got this.’”

Former Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith has suggested the maul should be banned. Rule disagrees.

“I like rolling mauls. I scored a try,” she laughed.

“Mauls are a special thing for forwards to compete in. They’re the most frustrating thing and exciting thing at the same time. I know Smithy loves that real fast, free, wide game but sometimes you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and put your head in dark places.”

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