England avenge World Cup final loss to clinch inaugural WXV 1 title

England Captain Marlie Packer celebrates with the WXV1 trophy
Photo: Dave Rowland

England were the inaugural WXV1 champions with a 33-12 victory over world champions New Zealand in Auckland.

The Red Roses capitalized on a fine start against the Blackbeards to finish as the only unbeaten team at the WXV.

Facing the side that beat them in last year’s World Cup final, England started quickly with tries from Alex Matthews, Lark Atkin-Davies and Sarah Bern.

See how the game unfolded here with RNZ’s live blog

Kennedy Simon and Katelyn Vahaakolo replied, before Morwenna Talling and Zoe Aldcroft put England over the line.

As well as being declared the first winners of the new women’s rugby world competition, England’s victory also ensured they remain ahead of New Zealand at the top of the world rankings.

The scene for England’s victory got off to a great start as they raced into a 19-0 lead with three tries in the first 23 minutes.

Matthews went over from the base of the scrum and the subsequent Atkin-Davies try was reminiscent of the four tries she scored against Canada on the previous tour of England.

Bern crashed over from close range after several steps to extend England’s advantage over the New Zealand team that started with some sloppy errors but finally clicked into gear before the interval.

Simon and Vahaakolo both crossed after creating an overlap down the Black Ferns’ left, reducing their deficit to seven points, but England again went through the paces to send Talling close to the posts midway through the second period.

That score meant that New Zealand needed to win by more than seven points and score at least four tries of their own to clinch the title – a task they did very well.

After the match, England captain Marlie Packer was named the winner of World Rugby’s Women’s Player of the Year award.

England end the 2023 transition period with a perfect record

After the disappointment of their World Cup final defeat against New Zealand in November 2022, England have bounced back in impressive style with a perfect record of 10 wins from 10 games during the 2023 transition.

Simon Middleton’s reign ended with the Six Nations Grand Slam, which ended with a narrow victory over France in front of more than 58,000 people at Twickenham.

Interim head coach Louis Deacon oversaw two Test wins over Canada before WXV and took charge of New Zealand, while head coach John Mitchell links up with the Red Roses after fulfilling his duties with the Japanese men at the Rugby World Cup.

Moving on, the Six Nations begin in March and the Red Roses will have another chance to showcase their talent at Twickenham against Ireland on April 20.

Twickenham could once again host another World Cup final, with talks taking place between the two respective nations over a separate game next year. The long-term aim is to build momentum going into the 2025 Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted by England.


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