Live updates: Rugby World Cup bronze final - France v Canada at Auckland's Eden Park

France 36 (Fall 11th min, Bourdon 35th min, Menager (2) 40th min, 61st min, Deshaye 44th min tries; Caroline Drouin 4 con, pen) Canada 0

FULLTIME - The French were magnifique at Eden Park today, riding their rock solid defence to a shut-out win. Click here for highlights and a full wrap and don't forget to join us for the main event here.

81st min - Another France penalty and another late chance to score. Nope, they're happy to boot that into touch and end the match.

79th min - France penalty, they'll have an opportunity to drive one final nail in the Canadian coffin with a 5m lineout... but the throw isn't straight.

75th min - Intercept France! Corrigan bursts 20m clear and the French are back inside Canadian territory.

74th min - Penalty Canada. They'll have a chance to steal some consolation points here.

67th minute - France force a knock on and Canada, yet again, come up empty handed.

Penalty France at the scrum and they'll move to a 10m lineout.

65th min - Canada with some great field position, 5m out from the line now. They're inches short here. Penalty advantage blown up, they'll regather and go again.

Firstly, France's Vernier will depart for 10 minutes for a high tackle.

61st min - TRY FRANCE to Marine Menager

Phase after phase of attack eventually overwhelms the Canadian defence and it's a simple catch and pass out wide for the wing to claim her second try. Drouin slots the sidleine conversion. (NZ 36-0)

58th min - Loose ball is hacked deep by Menager. France swarm and pin the Canadians deep, resulting in a 5m lineout and more danger for the North Americans.

54th min - French defence continues to look impenetrable, they win the penalty. Lineout near halfway.

51st min - Canada with some attacking field position, scrum at the French 22m.

44th min - TRY FRANCE to Annaelle Deshaye

The rolling maul from the 5m lineout goes to ground and the prop explodes from the ruck to power her way over. This is getting ugly for Canada. Drouin converts from the sideline. (France 29-0)

41st min - Canada lineout at their own 10m mark. They simply must be the first team to score here in this second half.

Penalty France. They'll immediately have a chance to attack from 30m out.

Second half underway...

5:34pm - The crowd is really starting to thicken out as supporters clad in black stream into Eden Park for tonight's headline act. 


41st min - TRY FRANCE to Marine Menager

Bourdon snipes down the blindside from the rolling maul, throws a slick pass back infield for Drouin, who links with a storming Menager to score in the corner. Huge blow on the stroke of halftime. (France 22-0)

40th min - France will have one final shot at the Canada line before halftime. Lineout inside the 22m.

36th min - TRY FRANCE to Pauline Bourdon

Vernier breaks in the midfield using a stiff fend, looks back inside to find her halfback streaking in support to finish under the black dot. Easy conversion and this contest is officially getting away on the Canadians.

35th min - France roll a rampaging maul from the lineout and earn a penalty.  30m out with the lineout.

34th min - More superb French defence results in a penalty and they repel another raid from Canada.

32nd min - Canada with a well executed lineout, they roll the maul inside the French 22m.

French hand on a pass, Canada will feed a scrum in their best attacking position of the game in the shadow of the posts.

30th min - France start to build nicely on attack before a knockon at the base of the ruck kills their momentum. Scrum Canada near halfway.

28th min - Canada break! They kick deep, France clean up and scramble well to earn a pressure-relieving penalty.

24th min - France break down the right edge and they'e quickly back on the offensive, inside the Canada 22m.

Stolen at the ruck, Canada clear, France return to the 10m. Wide ball is fumbled into touch, scrum Canada on their own 22m.

21st min - Drouin accepts the shot at goal from right in front to extend her side's lead. (France 10-0)

19th min - Menager bursts from the back of the scrum, powerful run takes France 5m from the Canadian line.

Drouin with the crossfield kick, doesnlt come off but we're back for a penalty. 

18th min - Bourdon streaks clear down the blindside, toes the ball ahead and Canada spill the ball in cover defence. Scrum for France just 10m out.

16th min - France feed the scrum at their 22m. Drouin clears and Canada return to halfway.

Superb defensive pressure again from the French forces a knock on. They'll launch from a scrum near halfway.

12th min - TRY FRANCE to Madoussou Fall

France keep the ball tight and batter away at the line, before Fall punishes the back-peddling Canadians and cashes over the chalk. Conversion is over. (France 7-0)

9th min - Canada working through the phases and recycling quickly. France steal the pill on phase 10 and clear back inside the Canada 22m.

Several kicks are traded before Boulard nails the 50/22. France in their best attacking position of the game so far.

6th min - France swarm the Canadians defensively and force the turnover. They clear, field the riposte and end up in excellent field position. Kick over the top, into touch for a Canadian lineout inside their 22m.

Penalty Canada. We'll move to a lineout near their 10m mark.

4th min - Canada win the defensive penalty at the ruck, great work by Kaljuvee. Canada throw a lineout near the French 22m.

France contest well but knock on. Canada set the scrum.

3rd min - France set off down a narrow blindside. Knock on, but we'll go back for the scrum advantage at their own 10m.

1st min - France kick off and the Canadians will have the first crack with ball in hand. Patient exit play leads to a crossfield kick which is put down by French star Caroline Drouin.

Scrum Canada near their own 22m.

We're underway...

4:27pm - The teams are lined for the anthems, kick off is just moments away.

4:22pm - The sun is out at 'The Garden' and the scene set for the final day of the World Cup, when a champion will be crowned.

But before we get to the game we're all waiting for, last weekend's beaten finalists France and Canada will battle it out for third place overall.


Kia ora and welcome to our live updates of the bronze final between France and Canada at Eden Park.

Both teams find themselves in the playoff for the final spot on the podium after gut-wrenching defeats in the semi-finals at the same venue last weekend.

The Canadians pushed England to the limit before going down 26-19, while Les Bleues were edged by the hosts in a pulsating 25-24 thriller.

Ranked one spot above their opponents in the official world rankings, the Canadians have got the better of France the last four times they've met, most recently taking out a 36-19 win in 2019.

This will be the third time the two have met in a World Cup bronze final. France downed Canada in Spain back in 2002 and on home soil in 2006.

We'll have all of the action from 4:30pm.

TAB betting odds: 

France - $1.20 Canada - $4.40

Team line-ups:

France: 1-Annaelle Deshaye, 2-Agathe Sochat, 3-Assia Khalfaoui, 4-Celine Ferer, 5-Madoussou Fall, 6-Gaëlle Hermet, 7-Charlotte Escudero, 8-Romane Menager, 9-Pauline Bourdon, 10-Caroline Drouin, 11-Marine Menager, 12-Gabrielle Vernier, 13-Maelle Filopon, 14-Joanna Grisez, 15-Emilie Boulard

Reserves: 16-Laure Touye, 17-Célia Domain, 18-Clara Joyeux, 19-Safi N’Diaye, 20-Marjorie Mayans, 21-Alexandra Chambon, 22-Jessy Trémoulière, 23-Chloé Jacquet.

Canada: 1-Sophie De Goede (captain), 2-Karen Paquin, 3-Sara Svoboda,4-McKinley Hunt, 5-Courtney Holtkamp, 6-DaLeaka Menin, 7-Emily Tuttosi, 8-Olivia DeMerchant, 9-Justine Pelletier, 10-Alex Tessier, 11-Paige Farries, 12-Sara Kaljuvee, 13-Alysha Corrigan, 14-Maddy Grant, 15-Elissa Alarie

Reserves: 16-Gillian Boag, 17-Brittany Kassil, 18-Alexandria Ellis, 19-Emma Taylor, 20-Tyson Beukeboom, 21-Gabrielle Senft, 22-Fabiola Forteza, 23-Anais Holly.

'Professor' Wayne Smith eases back towards retirement after guiding Black Ferns to Eden Park final

By Grant Chapman

The hard work is done.

Asked to overhaul of the world champion NZ women's team, fallen into disrepair through three years of COVID-19 disruption, the Rugby Professor is already easing back into Waihi Beach retirement.

Former All Blacks first-five Wayne Smith has achieved so much as a coach, including his much-vaunted, behind-the-scenes contributions to two World Cup-winning campaigns with the All Blacks, yet this may go down as his greatest accomplishment of all.

Taking the Black Ferns from record test losses to England and France 12 months, and then the public deconstruction of the team's very culture, Smith, 65, has guided them back to a World Cup final in a manner that has won the hearts of new fans throughout the nation.

The NZ women laid one of those ghosts to rests last week, overcoming the French in the semi-finals, barely surviving a last-gasp penalty attempt that probably should have dashed their dreams right there.

Wayne Smith.
Wayne Smith. Photo credit: Photosport

"I think we're in a place not a lot of people thought we'd get to," reflects Smith. "There was hope.

"That French team is outstanding - athletic, big, well-prepared - and worked hard to try and get to this final. Now we've got the best team of all-time, probably, on the weekend.

"We know what we've got to do to win it, but we've got to be at our very best - every single individual - to get close."

Before them now, an English juggernaut that have won a world record 30 straight games, since their last defeat to New Zealand at San Diego in 2019 - their only lapse since losing the last World Cup final to the Black Ferns in Ireland.

Smith, his staff and his players have been quick to apply the dreaded GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) tag to their rivals, keen to claim the underdog card on their own home turf.

He admits this week has been the easiest of his unexpected tenure with the women, even finding time to take in a movie - Dame Val Adams' More Than Gold - rather than having to plan ahead for the next game.

There are no more next games in this campaign, and precious few next campaigns for one of the game's greatest minds and probably the most widely respected man in NZ rugby, despite his own disastrous tenure as All Blacks head coach.

After coaching the Crusaders to two Super Rugby crowns, he was elevated to the national team job in 2000, failing to win the Bledisloe Cup from Australia and finishing second to the Wallabies in successive Tri Nations.

Disappointed with his own results, Smith insisted his role be contestable and many - including his employers - took that as a sign he didn't want it, even though he re-applied. 

Undone by his own integrity, he was replaced by John Mitchell.

"I always find quarter-finals and semi-finals nervewracking," says Smith. "I always find the final less so, because you've done the work and there's no need to motivate anyone."

The journey hasn't always been so smooth. When he accepted the role of Black Ferns director of rugby, Smith wanted to introduce a style that would capture the imagination of players and public alike.

"With our genetics and rugby, we've always been able to reinvent ourselves and always had an attacking mindset," he says. "My favourite team in history was the 1967-69 All Blacks - Brian Lochore captained it and Ian Kirkpatrick was my favourite player.

Smith and his players at training.
Smith and his players at training. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I used to watch them, and their forwards could catch and pass like backs, so I always had that in my mind. When you talk about 15-man rugby, that was 15-man rugby.

"That's what I love about the game and once I got put into this role, my aim was to try and be true to that with the women."

First, he had to deprogramme his charges from playing the way they had previously.

"The first week was obviously the start," Smith explains. "We played four quarters against the Lincoln academy boys and I had to grab one of the girls by the pants, as she was heading over the far side of the field, when the attack was going here.

"They were just used to different structures and they were very structured, whereas my idea was, if the attack's going on here, that's where we want to be, where the ball is, rather than running to a place I'm told to go.

"That was eye-opening to me, but the other thing that was eye-opening was how quickly they adjusted, when they saw the logic in what we were trying to do. We knew we couldn't come to this tournament and play the same way the other teams did and get this far - we knew we had to do something different."

Smith admits there have been times when he doubted his own obsession with the expansive game. While the Ferns are unbeaten under his watch, outscoring opponents by an average of 36 points over 11 games, they haven't always been as the scoreboard might suggest.

Even during this tournament, they found themselves down 17-0 in their opening encounter against Australia, before rattling on 41 unanswered points for victory.

Next up against Wales, the forwards were given a thorough examination that raised doubts over whether they could compete against the world's best up front. When New Zealand drew their pool rivals again in the quarter-finals, the pack came out breathing fire to settle any reservations.

"We've played some good rugby," insists Smith. "We've played rugby I've been really proud of.

"I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing when I came in, but I was adamant we should create a game that was true to our DNA... not re-inventing anything, but just teaching the girls how to play on top of teams and how to create the skills that only we need, because we're the only ones playing that sort of game.

"There's a unique set of skills and unique mindset to playing how we play, and I wasn't sure if we could create that or not. I think we've done that, we're not perfect, but hopefully it will provide a blueprint for the future, because it's excited people and it's excited the girls."

That style has excited the New Zealand public to the extent that another sellout crowd of more than 40,000 is expected at Eden Park for Saturday's final - a far cry from Smith's previous experience with the women's side as an assistant, when they faced then-world champions England at Burnham Military Camp in 1997. 

"Once you're out there, it's the noise that counts," says Smith. "As someone who's played there myself, I couldn't tell you how many were there or what it looked like, but I could tell you what it sounded like.

"I think we're getting better at adapting to it - we're not quite there yet, but hopefully this weekend we will be."

Just who takes up the torch after this tournament remains to be seen. Smith has undoubtedly groomed assistants Wes Clarke and Whitney Hansen, while cultural and leadership manager Allan Bunting has Olympic gold medal pedigree with the Black Ferns Sevens and a Super Rugby Aupiki crown with Chiefs Manawa.

One thing is almost certain - the Professor is leaving the building.

"This has been an experience I never thought I would enjoy so much," he says. "I've come to love it - I love these girls.

"I've enjoyed the whole atmosphere. It's been a lot of fun - but I've got other plans coming up."