Watched by a peak TV audience of 2.65 million on ITV1 in the UK – the largest ever for a women’s Rugby World Cup final – the showpiece game of Ireland 2017 did not disappoint the viewing public or the capacity 17,115 crowd packed inside a sold-out Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
We've got you covered again this weekend 🏉— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) April 1, 2020
RWC 2017: 🏴 🆚 🇳🇿
📆 Friday, April 3
🕖 19:00 BST
RWC 1999: 🇳🇿 🆚 🇫🇷
📆 Saturday. April 4
🕖 19:00 BST
RWC 2007: 🇫🇷 🆚 🇦🇷
📆 Sunday, April 5
🕖 16:00 BST
📺 Rugby World Cup Facebook / World Rugby YouTube pic.twitter.com/7YHoiLXgzn
New Zealand and England served up an 11-try classic with a 41-32 victory seeing the Black Ferns reclaim their world crown from the Red Roses.
The game between the two most successful teams in Rugby World Cup history was a fitting denouement to what was a record-breaking tournament in so many areas.
Trailing 17-5, the Black Ferns’ record of having never lost a Rugby World Cup final or to the Red Roses in the tournament looked under threat, but a dominant second-half performance saw the four-time champions add another title to their collection as well as retaining their place on top of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings.
A fitting stage for star talent
With four of the last five World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year winners involved in the match – Kendra Cocksedge (2015), Sarah Hunter (2016), Portia Woodman (2017) and Emily Scarratt (2019) – there was never going to be any shortage of quality on show.
However, it was Black Ferns prop Toka Natua who stole the headlines with an unexpected hat-trick as a penalty try and Lydia Thompson’s double proved insufficient for the 2014 champions.
Flying full-back Selica Winiata grabbed a brace and Charmaine Smith and Cocksedge also got their names on the scoresheet in a match that can be seen in all its glory again, on Friday at 19:00 BST, on the official RWC Facebook page and World Rugby YouTube channel, complete with live blogging and the thoughts of those involved on that memorable August evening.
"This is a dream come true," said an ecstatic Natua after the final whistle. "To be honest I just wanted to make the Black Ferns and I wanted to do it for my family. They were the ones who wanted me in the World Cup."
Having written another exciting chapter in their history, the Black Ferns went on to become the first female team to be named World Rugby Team of the Year at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco that November, beating the New Zealand and England men’s 15s teams to the accolade.