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A try for the ages lights up a thrilling opening weekend of Six Nations rugby as Scotland, Ireland and France register away wins

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The Black Ferns skipper who's leading by example at the World Cup

By Lucy Lomax
Ruahei Demant of New Zealand leads the haka at Rugby World Cup 2021 at Eden Park on October 08, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

In a World Cup year, Ruahei Demant was left speechless when coach Wayne Smith asked her to captain the Black Ferns for the Pacific Four Series in June and into the upcoming home World Cup.

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With the defence of their reigning champion status on the line, she accepted but admitted the captaincy role for her country was never something she’s strived for or expected to achieve.

The 27-year-old has however, shone so far at this tournament as a leader on and off the pitch. The Black Ferns did have a shaky opening 30 minutes to their campaign against the Wallaroos, however, since the second half of that match at Eden Park, New Zealand haven’t looked back.

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Scoring 41 unanswered points against Australia and 10 tries against Wales, the Black Ferns have well and truly arrived, qualified for the quarter finals with a game to spare (as have England and Canada), and are ready to challenge whoever stands in their path.

Demant said after the 56-12 demolition of Wales on Sunday: “All of us weren’t happy with the way we started (the game against Australia), and so we spent a lot of time preparing not only physically but mentally for this match and so despite the score line today and the tries and how beautiful they looked, I’m proud of the way the girls played the game and the mindset that we approached and started the game with. It was a massive shift from us today.”

Demant put in a massive shift herself with a total of 20 carries, 126 metres made, 10 offloads, four defenders beaten and four line breaks in her player of the match performance. Talk about leading by example.

Speaking on her position of fly-half and pulling the strings in an electric backline, Demant reflects the praise away from herself: “I’m always looking for the space and we have so many genuine threats and options and we play to our strengths and know each other’s strengths. It’s amazing to be able to trust the players on my outside and have clear specific communication and getting lightning quick ball from rucks and good delivery from my half-backs gives us such a good platform to attack off.”

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This is a first World Cup for the ten, who has put her career as a lawyer on hold to focus on rugby fulltime.

“It’s about each moment and each game. Everything is fun and exciting the way we drive and push each other and we have each other’s backs which is very exciting.”

Full back Ruby Tui agreed with her captain after the Wales win, saying: “What stood out for me is the connection we’re growing in the team, all of us are on the same page and we’re getting to the state as a team where you don’t have to talk you can use your eyes and we’re only just getting started.

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“We’ve got the key and put it in the ignition. This tournament has shown the world women’s rugby is about to pop. Jump on this boat or you’re going to miss it.”

After two electric rounds and 12 games of rugby so far in this tournament, I’d say…what she said.

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