Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns unfazed by slow ticket sales for semi-final against France

The Black Ferns insist they're undeterred by the slow ticket sales for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against France on Saturday, well aware they'll have the nation behind them - at least in spirit - at Eden Park.

Over 20,000 tickets are still available for the blockbuster semi-final double header, which also features England's clash with Canada.

Those numbers are in stark contrast to the rousing tournament opener at the same stadium, where a sold-out crowd were in full voice for the event's curtain raiser.

Co-captain Kennedy Simon put the relatively lower level of interest down to a case of rugby fatigue, after almost two months of rugby across only three venues, two of which were in Auckland.

"There's been a lot of rugby the last seven weeks," said Simon at Friday's captain's run. 

"I know we've got lots of fans, near and far, and the fans that do show up are going to not regret it."

Simon's message to Aucklanders who were perhaps on the fence about attending was clear and concise.

"Let's have a good crowd. The girls are going to put on a wonderful performance."

The overriding narrative during the week's build up has been the one-sided nature of the most recent clashes between the two teams, with the Black Ferns soundly beaten in France during last year's northern tour. In fact, the French have won their last four games against the New Zealanders.

Although Simon insisted there's no notion of revenge tied into their motivations this week, she's also admitted that - particularly for those who played in those tests 12 months ago - there will be an extra edge of retribution at 'The Garden'.

"Those of us that were there know what it was like," she said. "We spoke to our group that this one's personal.

"We're going to bring a good fight."

The biggest difference between that Ferns side and this one is the new approach under coach Wayne Smith, where they've fully embraced their strength as an expansive counter-attacking side.

Black Ferns celebrate a try against Wales
Black Ferns celebrate a try against Wales. Photo credit: Photosport

Simon said the team had grown in "leaps and bounds" since last year and were eager to give Les Bleues a taste of their crowd-pleasing brand, as they eye a fairytale tournament swansong in front of a guaranteed packed house at Eden Park for next weekend's final.

"The test week] has been quite refreshing. We've just revisited a couple of things we've learned over the year, and we just really want to execute a clean, fast-paced style of rugby.

"It will be a good test and hopefully show the character of each and every one of the women in the squad. 

"It's not over until it's over and we don't plan on finishing there."

Catch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join Newshub from 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Black Ferns v France semi-final