Rugby World Cup 2021 final one year to go: How the previous tournaments were won
In 365 days, two teams will be preparing to face each other in the Rugby World Cup 2021 final at Eden Park.
Since the inaugural women’s Rugby World Cup kicked off in Wales in 1991 only three nations, the USA, England and New Zealand have ended the tournament as champions.
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As the countdown for the RWC 2021 final enters the last 12 months we look at the eight previous showpiece matches to find out how those tournaments were won.
USA 19-6 England, Cardiff Arms Park, 14 April, 1991
Barb Bond’s pushover try helped the USA book their place in the inaugural women’s Rugby World Cup final in Cardiff in 1991 with a 7-0 win against New Zealand in the last four.
But there was little room for sentiment and squad captain Bond was dropped for the showpiece match.
USA coach Kevin O’Brien preferred to go with a mobile back-row of Clare Godwin, Morgan Whitehead and Kathy Flores, and it proved a masterstroke.
England took the lead when Godwin gave away a penalty try, converted by Gill Burns, and led 6-3 at the half-time break.
However, they were unable to live with the pace and intensity of the Americans in the second half and Godwin scored two quickfire tries before Patty Connell put the seal on victory with a third in the 58th minute.
England 38-23 USA, Raeburn Place, 24 April, 1994
Following their defeat in Cardiff, England made it their mission to topple the USA, and first beat the Rugby World Cup holders in Canada in June 1993.
Heading into RWC 1994, England were therefore confident of going one step further than three years previously and progressed through the tournament with victories over Russia, Scotland, Canada and France.
England had scored 134 points in their four matches, a tally dwarfed by the USA who notched 364 points against Sweden, Japan, Ireland and Wales while conceding only 15.
In the final in Edinburgh, England put the faith in their forwards and were rewarded as Jane Mitchell, Jacquie Edwards and Gill Burns each crossed the whitewash, while they were awarded two penalty tries.
Fly-half Karen Almond added 19 points with the boot, which took the game away from the reigning champions who had breached the England line four times but converted none of their tries.
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🏆 The @BlackFerns won their first of five RWCs, defeating USA 44-12 in the final 🇳🇿 pic.twitter.com/WAHsbUIBGN
New Zealand 44-12 USA, National Rugby Centre Stadium, 16 May, 1998
New Zealand had not participated in the second Rugby World Cup in Scotland and were determined to make up for lost time in Amsterdam in 1998.
Semi-finalists at the first tournament, New Zealand opened with a 134-6 defeat of Germany and subsequently made serene progress, beating Scotland and Spain to set up a last-four encounter with England.
Vanessa Cootes and Annaleah Rush each scored twice as the defending champions were beaten 44-11 in the semi-finals.
The USA, featuring several survivors from 1991, stood between New Zealand and a first Rugby World Cup title but in the end, the Kiwis proved too strong.
Cootes scored a first-half hat-trick and ended the match with five tries to her name, while Louisa Wall, Regina Sheck and captain Farah Palmer also crossed the whitewash to confirm a 44-12 victory.
England 9-19 New Zealand, Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic, 25 May, 2002
A decade after Barcelona’s Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic had reverberated with the sights and sounds of the Olympic Games, the famous venue played host to the Rugby World Cup final.
Defending champions New Zealand again started with a big win against Germany and then beat Australia and France to reach a second successive final.
Their opponents, in what proved to be the first of a trilogy of Rugby World Cup finals between the sides, were England, who beat Italy, Spain and Canada to secure their place in the showpiece match.
In front of a crowd of 7,800 fans in Barcelona, Tammi Wilson and Shelley Rae exchanged early penalties, while the latter also added a drop goal to help give England a 9-6 lead after 23 minutes.
That was as good as it got for England, though, as Monique Hirovanaa and Cheryl Waaka scored tries either side of half-time and Hannah Porter’s late penalty put the seal on New Zealand’s second Rugby World Cup triumph.
New Zealand 25-17 England, Commonwealth Stadium, 17 September, 2006
Canada hosted the first Rugby World Cup to be played outside of Europe, but defending champions New Zealand and England remained the teams to beat.
New Zealand opened with a win against the hosts and went on to beat Samoa, Scotland and France en route to the final, while conceding only 17 points.
England, meanwhile, beat the USA, South Africa and France in the pool stage before a 20-14 semi-final victory that denied Canada a place in the final.
Karen Andrew opened the scoring in the showpiece match with a third-minute penalty for England, but New Zealand built a 20-10 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Just as it looked as though New Zealand were cruising to victory, Helen Clayton scored England’s second try and Shelley Rae supplied a touchline conversion.
England sensed a chance of victory, but lost possession as they attempted to build an attack from deep and Amiria Rule was able to confirm New Zealand as champions with a try in the left corner.
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New Zealand 13-10 England, Twickenham Stoop, 5 September, 2010
England began their home Rugby World Cup determined to wrestle the trophy from New Zealand’s grasp and started the tournament in style.
The Red Roses beat Ireland, Kazakhstan and the USA to set up a semi-final against Australia, which the hosts won 15-0 at Twickenham Stoop.
New Zealand, meanwhile, also emerged from the pool stage unbeaten and then turned on the style to beat France 45-7 in the last four.
Back at The Stoop for the final, the Black Ferns lost Anna Richards and Mel Bosman to the sin-bin in the first half, but led 7-0 at the break thanks to Carla Hohepa’s try, converted by Kelly Brazier.
Katy Daley-Mclean got England on the scoreboard with a penalty early in the second half and then levelled the scores when she converted Charlotte Barras’ 61st minute try. Home hopes were shattered shortly afterwards, however, as Brazier struck her second penalty and it proved decisive.
England 21-9 Canada, Stade Jean Bouin, 17 August, 2014
The Black Ferns’ 16-year reign as world champions was ended on the outskirts of Paris by Ireland, who inflicted on them a first Rugby World Cup defeat since the inaugural tournament.
That Pool B defeat, coupled with England and Canada’s 13-13 draw in their Pool A match, meant that New Zealand were eliminated before the semi-final stage for the first time.
England subsequently made sure of their place in a fourth consecutive final with a 40-7 win against Ireland in the last four, while Canada were grateful to a stunning Magali Harvey try as they beat the hosts 18-16.
The final at Stade Jean Bouin was a tight affair, but England took control of it in the first half with a pair of Emily Scarratt penalties and Danielle Waterman’s well-worked try.
Canada threatened a comeback as three Harvey penalties narrowed the deficit to just two points. But, Scarratt added a third penalty of her own and then produced a powerful midfield break to score her side’s second try and confirm England’s second title.
England 32-41 New Zealand, Kingspan Stadium, 26 August, 2017
The eighth Rugby World Cup was the biggest and best yet, but remarkably featured the same semi-final line-up as the inaugural tournament in Wales.
In the second semi-final history repeated as England booked their place in a fifth Rugby World Cup final in a row with a 20-3 victory in Belfast.
New Zealand, though, showed little regard for what had happened 26 years previously as they booked an immediate return to the showpiece match with a 45-12 defeat of the USA.
Despite conceding the opening try of the final, to Selica Winiata, England led 17-10 at half-time and edged 25-24 in front when Lydia Thompson crossed for the second time, with 25 minutes remaining.
The momentum swung back in the Black Ferns’ favour almost immediately, though, as Toka Natua completed her hat-trick. Kendra Cocksedge and Winiata then ran in New Zealand’s sixth and seventh tries to render Isabelle Noel-Smith’s late effort nothing more than consolation.