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By any measure, the Black Ferns of New Zealand will be the clear favorite to capture the 2014 IRB Women’s World Cup that begins this August 1 in Paris. Three pools of four teams each will contest for the title, won the last four tournaments by New Zealand.
The Black Ferns – who also perform the traditional haka – have been undefeated in 2013 and 2014, winning all seven of their international matches. The run up to the WRWC witnessed a three-game home test sweep against England (29-10, 14-9, and 29-8) in 2013. In 2014, they beat Australia (38-3), Samoa (90-12), and two victories against a plucky, visiting Canadian side (16-8 and 33-21). Although opponents have been able to exploit weaknesses in the Black Ferns’ lineup and score points, they have not been able to beat the world champions.
One of the prime reasons for the Black Ferns ascendancy is the New Zealand Women’s National Provincial Championship played among six teams in round robin play. This spirited annual event numbers teams coming from Manawatu, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury, Otago, and Wellington. Auckland won the 2013 event, defeating Canterbury 20-10.
An ancillary reason for the Black Ferns’ dominance is that many of the XV players, also represent New Zealand in sevens.
The Black Ferns will play Ireland, Kazakhstan, and the USA Eagles. Many rugby pundits perceive that the WRFC 2014 will see the Black Ferns in the title game. And most, consider this final will represent a fifth straight New Zealand victory.