Are there any other Rugby World Cup contenders?
Before the tournament started, the bookmakers had England as favorites and their record of 27 consecutive wins is hard to ignore.
The Black Ferns crushed Wales in the pool game to seal their place in the quarter-finals, while England edged past France to book their place in the playoffs.
After watching their Six Nations rivals go head-to-head, Black Ferns assistant coach Whitney Hansen said favorites England were “beatable”.
“It probably just showed the different style of rugby they try to play compared to what we are.
“You can either look at that and see that defending France was something quite special, I think we did that. The other side to look at is England are beatable and I think that the teams are going to look at that and think that now too.”
Black Ferns assistant coach Wes Clarke agreed the world number 1 team was beatable, but he still believed they were the team in World Cup form.
“I’m not great at math, but I’ve had 27 straight wins and I think we’re down to eight or nine,” Clarke said.
“They have a game plan that works for them, they hardly make any mistakes, they found what they like to do. I think there were 52 kicks in that last game [against France] so it works for them and they succeed.”
Black Ferns away full-back Ruby Tui said England and France had been impressive and she thought the tournament was more open than many pundits might suggest.
It was rare that the Black Ferns weren’t title favorites. But Tui said they rose to the challenge to defend their crown and keep New Zealand ahead of the pack.
“We have a job to do and that is to show the world what we have got.”
England full-back Holly Aitchison didn’t want to take too much credit for the Red Roses’ winning streak as it had only recently gone from seven to fifteen – making her debut against the Black Ferns last year.
She said the unbeaten run is barely mentioned within the team.
“To be honest, we don’t talk about it a lot, we talked about it once before we broke the record, but we just said we’d talk about it once and then we’ll bring it to mind because it’s not about records or anything like that, it’s about winning the next game.”
Being part of what is called a ‘one-generation team’ is what made the 25-year-old Olympian focus on fortnights.
“Anyone on this team could be named World Player of the Year, we’re so lucky with the amount of talent we have and that’s one of the main reasons I said I wanted to come. when I had the chance.
English prostitute Amy Cokayne spent time in New Zealand as a teenager captaining Fielding High School First XV to a 53 game winning streak.
She credited her school coach Rob Jones for helping her and Black Ferns Sarah Hirini and Georgia Ponsonby get this far.
Cokayne is in her second World Cup and has noticed the improvements in women’s football in recent years.
“The competition between all the teams was really different. The first week there were probably shocking performances and close scoring, but I think it’s really good, now we have 12 really competitive teams in the tournament.”
Tui agreed the tournament had already been a huge success for the sport.
“This tournament has shown that world women’s rugby is about to explode. Jump on that waka or you’re going to miss it,” Tui said.
The Black Ferns complete the pool game against Scotland at Whangarei on Saturday afternoon, while England face South Africa at Waitakere on Sunday.