NZ women have World Cup point to prove

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 26 June 2013  
 NZ women have World Cup point to prove
New Zealand arrive at Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow as proven scorers in big tournaments

While statistics do not in themselves win rugby tournaments, they are a handy barometer of a team’s ability to score points and tries under pressure.

In that regard New Zealand’s women can comfort themselves in the knowledge that they arrive in Moscow with proven scorers from both the recent and not so recent past.

Selica Winiata looks back with mixed feelings on the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens, the first for the women’s game. The diminutive Manawatu police constable was in the New Zealand side that lost the final in golden time to great rivals Australia. After top-scoring in that tournament, she also begins the Moscow showpiece as the leading point-scorer in RWC Sevens with 52.

"There are a few of us who have experience from 2009 and that experience is important,” she said after New Zealand’s first training session in the shadow of the Luzhniki Stadium, venue for the World Cup this weekend.

"Although, in saying that, we haven’t looked back too much. Losing in 2009 is always in the back of your mind, especially going into extra time and not getting the points on the board. It was nice to finish as the top point-scorer but it’s no consolation really.

"Since 2009 there has been a massive step forward in the women’s game and this time around there are a lot more sides capable of winning the competition. If you don’t perform you won’t get through and I am looking forward to Saturday.”

Proven point-scorers

New Zealand were the overall top point-scorers in 2009, amassing 29 tries and 177 points overall – 30 more than champions Australia.

Of the top five try-scorers in Dubai four years ago, only Canada’s Mandy Marchak is in Moscow but the other four make way for a brand new raft of talent.

While top scorer Carla Hohepa is unavailable for the kiwis, stepping into her shoes is a recent netball convert Portia Woodman, who top-scored on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series this season with 21.

Alongside Woodman, player of the year nominee Kayla McAlister touched down 16 times, while teammates Honey Hireme (13) and Kelly Brazier (10) were also dangerous going forward.

"We trained well today despite it being our first day here,” said Winiata of the Black Ferns Sevens, who line up here in pool play against Canada, Netherlands and Tunisia.

"We were obviously delighted with the World Series but that is something totally different. The World Cup is a big deal for us but we will just be taking it game by game. We have a tough pool and every game is going to test us so we’re not taking anyone lightly."