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The incredible RWC moment that left aspiring Black Fern 'in shock'

By Finn Morton
Renee Holmes and Ruby Tui of the Black Ferns pose for a photo with Lucia who received her winning medal during the New Zealand Black Ferns Rugby World Cup 2021 fan reception after beating England to win the Rugby World Cup 2021 on November 13, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

While the Black Ferns were able to unite and inspire a nation throughout their incredible World Cup run, the tournament’s greatest moment may have come after the champions were crowned.

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More than 42,000 rugby fans packed the stands at New Zealand’s home of rugby, Eden Park, for Saturday’s momentous World Cup final between the Black Ferns and England.

The two traditional rugby rivals had met twice 12-months earlier during the Black Ferns’ Northern Tour to England and France – with the Red Roses winning both Tests by emphatic margins.

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But under the guidance of super coach Wayne Smith, the Black Ferns were able to complete their incredible redemption arc, and defend their World Cup title on home soil.

Stars including Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler and Kendra Cocksedge were among a powerful group of New Zealand women who had inspired the next generation to dream big.

But as reported by ESPN Assistant Editor Brittany Mitchell, utility back Tui had met a young girl earlier in the week who dreamt of becoming “a Black Fern.”

Renee Holmes and Ruby Tui of the Black Ferns pose for a photo with Lucia who received her winning medal during the New Zealand Black Ferns Rugby World Cup 2021 fan reception after beating England to win the Rugby World Cup 2021 on November 13, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
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Tui was told soon after that the little girl, Lucia, had recently recovered from Leukemia.

As the Black Ferns star celebrated her teams World Cup victory at Eden Park, Tui reportedly saw Lucia in the crowd, and gave her World Cup medal to the young fan.

“After the game, I hung around waiting for her,” Lucia told Newshub.

“She gave me a hug and took off the medal and gave me the medal.

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“I was in shock and I was crying.”

The Black Ferns etched their names in New Zealand sporting folklore with their epic run at the World Cup, which has already created a legacy which will be felt for generations.

After playing two consecutive World Cup matches at a sold-out Eden Park, the Black Ferns have well and truly changed the game.

Speaking after the final, New Zealand co-captain Ruahei Demant said the team wanted to “inspire the nation” throughout the tournament – which is exactly what they did.

“The level of support that we’ve received from our country has been really overwhelming and as players none of us really expected this,” Demant said.

“It’s still quiet surreal to turn up to Eden Park, we’ve been here three times now, and it’s been sold-out two times.

“I never ever would’ve thought when they announced that the Rugby World Cup was here in New Zealand that we would get this level of engagement because we’re not really that type of country.

“As a team we spoke about, part of our vision was wanting to inspire the nation and I think that’s what we’ve done and it’s still quite funny saying that because we’ve achieved it and it’s quite a hard thing to do.”

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