Black Ferns finalize lineup for semi-final match against France
Women’s Rugby World Cup : The Black Ferns lineup to play France on Saturday in Auckland for the Rugby World Cup semi-finals was announced this morning.
With the exception of moving Ruby Tui to the wing, promoting Renee Holmes to the number 15 shirt, and inserting Ayesha Leti-I’iga from the bench, Black Ferns Coaches Wayne Smith, Wesley Clarke, and Whitney Hansen have kept the same match-day 23 that won the quarterfinal against Wales two weeks ago.
In the season opener at Eden Park a little under a month ago, Woodman, Tui, and Holmes all played together as the back three.
Smith: “Renee is a specialist 15 and has been playing well there for us, we also regard Ayesha as a wonderful impact player so we know she will come in and make a difference in the game.”
There have been nine matches between the Black Ferns and France, with the Black Ferns winning the first five Tests before losing the last four. They’ve played each other in three World Cups: 2002, 2006, and 2010.
While 12 players on the Black Ferns semi-final roster also played for New Zealand last year in a match against France, this weekend’s match will be the first time the two teams have met in New Zealand.
The men’s teams have met twice before at Eden Park for the Rugby World Cup Finals, in 1987 and 2011, therefore this game maintains a long tradition of competition between New Zealand and France in rugby.
If we want to win, we’ll need to play our greatest game of the season. We’ve fallen behind this year and have a long way to go before we can make up, so our players will need to play with bravery and poise on Saturday if they want to win. “We need to be enthused about it, not overwhelmed by the fact that we get to play in a World Cup at Eden Park,” added Smith.