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'It really hurts': Wallaroos star reflects on World Cup after quarter-finals exit

By Finn Morton
Sharni Williams of Australia runs the ball during the Rugby World Cup 2021 New Zealand Quarterfinal match between England and Australia at Waitakere Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Wallaroos inside centre Sharni Williams said she doesn’t “want to have to be proud” after Australia were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup.

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Australia began their World Cup run with an emphatic start against hosts New Zealand at Eden Park, having hone up 17-0 within the first half an hour.

While the Black Ferns went on to record a 41-17 win, the Wallaroos bounced back in their other two pool games against Scotland and Wales to qualify for the quarter-finals.

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Sharni Williams on the Wallaroos’ quarter-final loss to England.
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Sharni Williams on the Wallaroos’ quarter-final loss to England.

But they would progress no further after coming up against World Number One England, who beat the Wallaroos 41-5 at Waitakere Stadium.

Williams, who played in her fourth World Cup, said she was “extremely proud” but wants the Wallaroos to up there with the top teams in the world.

“Extremely proud but I don’t want to have to be proud about that, I want us to be there at that level,” Williams said after the quarter final defeat.

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“The Wallaroos did the best that they could do being amateurs and with their day jobs and the long hours that they’ve spent.

“Not coming away with it really hurts and cements that we probably need to be looked at better.

“We’re not just the underdogs anymore. We’re playing up against the number one team and we put some points. We’re not that underdog team and we will go out fighting.”

The Rugby Sevens gold medallist was impressive in Australia’s opening match of the tournament, running eight times for 51 metres – and she also beat four defenders.

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Williams, who went on to star in the Number 12 jersey for all four games across the World Cup, wants to see more people watching women’s rugby after the success of the tournament.

“It’s exciting, it really is, because this World up has been a next level step up. The crowds have been unbelievable, even the skill level of the girls as well,” she said.

“The set-piece stuff has been awesome so I can only see it going up from there.

“I just really encourage people to get out and watch rugby, not just at a World Cup. We play grassroots, we play Super W and there’s more places that you can find rugby than it just being this one event.

“If people can just get out there and watch that then that’s going to obviously help us grow as a team.”

The final four at the World Cup are set, with Canada set to play England in the first semi-final at Eden Park on Saturday.

After this match, the Black Ferns will take the field against France, who they lost to in back-to-back games during their Northern Tour last year.

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