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The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

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Black Ferns' co-captain Ruahei Demant wins World Player of the Year

By Finn Morton
New Zealand rugby player Ruahei Demant poses with her trophy after winning the women's rugby union player of the year award during the 2022 World Rugby Awards ceremony in Monaco on November 20, 2022. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP) (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Black Ferns co-captain Ruahei Demant said she didn’t expect to be named World Rugby’s Women’s 15s Player of the Year in Monaco on Sunday.


Demant has capped off an incredible couple of weeks with the national team, after the Black Ferns won the World Cup final against England at a sold-out Eden Park last weekend.

More than 42,000 rugby fans packed the stands at New Zealand’s home of rugby for what was truly a ground-breaking and momentous decider – with Demant named player of the match.

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The star pivot beat fellow nominees Sophie de Goede, Alex Matthews, Laure Sansus and Portia Woodman to take out the award.

After being named the world’s best women’s rugby player at the World Rugby Awards, the World Cup winning captain said it was “unexpected”, before reflecting on her journey.

“I guess like most of us in our team and many rugby players in New Zealand, I come from a very, very small place,” Demant said.

“To be able to put on the black jersey, it was always a dream. I never knew about the Black Ferns growing up as a kid I guess like most other women my age.


“Women’s rugby was never accessible, it was never something you kind of aspired to be like because you never had role models like that to look up to.

“That was one of the great things about this World Cup is one it was free to air so everyone could watch it, but people could turn on the telly or go to the games and see people that looked like them.

“So many strong women out there doing amazing and incredible things.”

The Black Ferns were able to unite and inspire a nation throughout their incredible World Cup run, which included famous wins over both France and England.


New Zealand had visited both of those counties during their end-of-season tour the year before, and were beaten by emphatic margins across all four Test matches.

But under the brilliant tutelage of master coach Wayne Smith, the Black Ferns were able to revolutionise their game – and ultimately defend their World Cup crown in front of New Zealand fans.

“There’s not a single word to describe the journey that we’ve been on as a team,” she said.

“12 months ago, we came up here to the Northern Hemisphere and got wasted.

“In that 12 month period, we’ve been able to completely transform the way that we think about footy and the way that we play. A lot of that was due to our coach, Smithy, and I guess the courage that he instilled in us.

“We had a great bunch of girls that put their heart and soul and body on the line for everyone, regardless of whether or not they were playing.

“We got the job done but we also had a great time, a lot of fun doing it as well.”


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RUGBYPASS+ The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation