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Black Ferns credit Canada's growth, lament poor discipline in loss

By Ned Lester
Katelyn Vaha'akolo of New Zealand is tackled by Fancy Bermudez of Canada. Photo by Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Canada took out the Pacific Four Series crown over the weekend in Christchurch with an historic 22-19 win over the Black Ferns.

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It was Canada’s first-ever win over the New Zealand side, adding to what was a momentous day for Canadian rugby.

In a game where Canada made just shy of 250 tackles compared to New Zealand’s 101, the visitors completed just shy of 90 per cent of their tackle attempts, executing an aggressive defensive line throughout a stoic 80-minute performance.

Having gone up 24-0 in the opening 10 minutes of their game against the USA, the Black Ferns again came out of the gates with intent in Christchurch, but the 14-3 lead they had built by the 22nd minute against Canada wasn’t enough.

The Canadians weathered the New Zealand storm and used their rolling maul to great effect, coming from behind to claim a lead early in the second half that they would never relinquish.

“We can always improve. That’s where our focus was and that was the message at the end of the game,” Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant said following the loss.

“I think it’s exciting to know that whatever opposition you play, you can’t take lightly. The journey for us to the World Cup next year isn’t always going to be smooth, but I think this is where we get the most growth.

“We’re looking to expand and grow in many areas of our game and we know that isn’t always going to go perfectly, but that’s where we’re going to get the most growth.”

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Black Ferns coach Allan Bunting said there were some simple lessons to be learnt from the contest and gave his team’s opposition their flowers for the win.

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“Canada have grown their game, and they came out and have made some changes, they’ve got a kicking game that worked really well for them.”

New Zealand’s ambitious attacking game struggled in last year’s inaugural WXV 1 competition after another unbeaten run through the Pacific Four Series and of course, 2022’s Rugby World Cup win.

Aggressive defensive lines from the likes of France and England unravelled the reigning world champs’ potent attack, leading to a fourth-placed finish below both of their fellow Pacific Four Series foes in the top international division.

“It was frustrating at times, and obviously we’re disappointed as a whole group. It’s on all of us,” Bunting added.

“Canada, they did bring it to us… They were physical and held on to the ball and they certainly played in the right areas of the field. Our discipline let them down there quite a bit, so we’ll take some lessons from that.”

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10 Comments
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Brian 28 days ago

WXV1 will have some interesting matches, I expect that each of the European Nations will play each of the Pac 4 countries. Ireland and USA will struggle but it should be a good match between them. Will the 7s players be back playing? England should be clear winners but France are often not good travellers and with it being in Canada they might slip up again but they will certainly be up for the BFs who have played almost all of their matches over the last two years at home, with mixed results and two of the wins were fortuitous against better sides.

WXV2 will have some very competitive matches, assuming the 6N teams will be playing Japan, SA and Australia. Will be very interesting to see how Australia fare. They also have a game arranged beforehand with Ireland, I would expect 6N teams to beat Japan and SA but nothing is a given and teams are improving quickly.

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Courtney 34 days ago

To be honest this result was not that seismic as shock, Canada are a very good team and very few teams fear the Black Ferns anymore. The rankings give a good picture, the top four ranked teams are the top four teams in women’s rugby with England ahead the other three can exchange places at any given time. Despite the USA result I still think Australia are ahead of the rest. WXV will show how big the gap is between nations.

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Brian 34 days ago

I’ve little doubt that England is comfortably the No 1 team and not only beat other teams but beat them easily. Not so sure about France. They should be No 2 after winning 3 of last 4 matches against NZ and only a straightforward missed kick prevented it from being 4 out of 4. However, then they inexplicably lost to Canada and Wallaroos in WXV. I thought the NZ match was their “cup final” and they took the others lightly, but they were not particularly impressive in 6N except in flashes. I think they have stood still whilst Canada and England have moved forward but I don't think Canada has the depth and their team is ageing. I agree NZ not moving forward. What will be interesting is how the Wallaroos fare against NZ and then again in their September match against Ireland and then in WXV2 against other 6N teams. I was surprised they lost to USA.

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Andrew 34 days ago

NZ is now entrenched in Div 2 of womens rugby. Canada would be thrashed by the likes of France or England. Europe are Div 1, with massive competitions, massive money…

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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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