New Zealand are the most successful team in Rugby World Cup history. The Black Ferns have competed at every tournament bar one, RWC 1994, and have claimed the title five times. Three years ago, New Zealand beat England 41-32 to win the fifth of those crowns at Ireland 2017 and retain their perfect record in finals.
We take a look back at New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup story.
RWC debut: 6 April, 1991 v Canada at Memorial Ground, Cardiff
RWC appearances: Played 32 – Won 30, Drawn 0, Lost 2 – Points for 1,526 Points against 230 – Win ratio 94 per cent
Best finish: Champions, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2017
Qualification for RWC 2021: Champions at RWC 2017
Most memorable match: The Black Ferns faced England in three successive Rugby World Cup finals between 2002-10, winning each match. The most memorable match in that triple-header came at England 2010, when New Zealand held off the hosts at a packed Twickenham Stoop to seal a 13-10 victory. Carla Hohepa and Charlotte Barras traded tries, but in the end it was a Kelly Brazier penalty that proved decisive.
Iconic moment: New Zealand provided a raft of standout performances on their way to glory at Ireland 2017, but it is something that happened after their final victory that will live long in the memories of those who were there. Once Fiao’o Faamausili had raised the trophy, replacement hooker, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate led the Black Ferns in an emotional, celebratory Haka. Few of the thousands of fans inside the Kingspan Stadium will ever forget that moment.
Low point: New Zealand had not lost a Rugby World Cup match in more than two decades ahead of their Pool B match against Ireland at France 2014. An upset didn’t look on when Selica Winiata scored a 26th-minute try, to add to an earlier Brazier penalty. However, Ireland stormed back with tries from Heather O’Brien and Alison Miller, as well as seven points from the boot of Niamh Briggs, to claim an historic win – ending the Black Ferns’ 21-match winning run on the RWC stage.
Iconic player: The sight of Farah Palmer lifting the Rugby World Cup trophy high above her head became as iconic as it was expected between 1998-2006. The World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee captained the Black Ferns to three Rugby World Cup victories, beating the USA and England (twice) in successive finals. During her nine-year reign as captain from 1997, New Zealand lost only one match.
Did you know? Only two teams have beaten the Black Ferns at a Rugby World Cup. The USA won 7-0 in the semi-finals of the inaugural tournament in 1991, while Ireland repeated the trick 23 years later, inflicting a 17-14 defeat on the holders in the pool stage of RWC 2014.
Quote: “It was just amazing to think you’ve gone to a World Cup. You grow up, you see your favourite sporting personalities and you think it’s amazing in the Olympics and world champs… To actually finally get there for yourself is pretty special and wearing the jersey once let alone going to two World Cups was pretty amazing.” – RWC 2010 winning captain Melissa Ruscoe reflects on her time with the Black Ferns