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England & New Zealand Progress to Semis in Rugby World Cup 2021/22

England and New Zealand have unsurprisingly secured their places in the next stage of the Rugby World Cup 2021/22 following their defeat of Australia and Wales this past weekend, respectively. Next week they will face off against France and Canada in the Semi-Finals.

An England v New Zealand final is a tantalising prospect, but can France and Canada produce the greatest upsets ever in Women’s rugby?

Both New Zealand and England are so far ahead of the rest. They tick so many boxes when you look at how they play the game, and interestingly both teams can play dry weather rugby in wet weather conditions.

That is one of the many problems confronting Canada and France in next weekend’s semi-finals.

Watching women’s rugby at this level is no different to the men’s game. New Zealand scored a try passing the ball along the back line, going left to right with exquisite timing and precision, a masterpiece at any level.

If you have ever coached girls or women’s teams, you will appreciate how attentive they are, far better listeners than their male counterparts. Hence the improvement in performance is easy to see. The players understand what they are involved in – so important if you want to produce an exciting product.

New Zealand 55 v Wales 3

Wales, even in defeat contributed hugely to this match especially in the opening twenty minutes. They had good attacking shape and were organised in defence. But to win big you must sustain it for eighty minutes.

New Zealand are nothing if not technically very proficient and under the guidance of Wayne Smith, once in possession kept the ball going forward, and speed of thought stretched the Welsh defence to breaking point. Such is their understanding of the game that their instinct enables them to identify and quickly exploit any lapses in defence.

In addition, New Zealand has World Class players – the icing on the cake. Their interjection into play, their ability to see and exploit opportunity way ahead of the others, ensures points will follow.

I can’t see France creating an upset, but Kiwi males will not need reminding of losing to France at Twickenham in the 1999 World cup.

England 41 v Australia 5

With no disrespect to Canada, England will offer a sterner more relentless physical challenge. England can play with width and go forward and are extremely effective in close quarter support.

Their scrum and lineout dominate and that is a real concern for Canada. If England take the pace out of Canada’s attack, then they will win easily.

England may need to work with a little more creativity inside the attacking 5-meter line against New Zealand but trying to influence determined women is not easy!

But what of Australia? When the heavens opened, the odds lengthened quickly. Their propensity to attack was still evident – it’s in their DNA, but on this occasion poor execution let them down. They remain a 7’s force but not at 15s.

Finally, the playing depth and fitness of the top sides suggests some countries may get left behind. Keeping future competitions well balanced and games competitive will be a challenge for future World Cup organisers.

About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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