Rugby World Cup: Departing Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith's final plea after famous victory

Departing Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith has urged the powers-that-be to strike while the iron is hot, after their incredible Rugby World Cup victory over England.

New Zealand stunned the 'Red Roses' 34-31 in front of a soldout Eden Park to clinch back-to-back titles and their sixth ever, with more than 1.2 million Kiwis watching the final on Three.

Smith has achieved just about all you can in rugby, from World Cup wins with the All Blacks to Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders and Chiefs.

But despite all his storybook experiences, he reveals this tops them all and he hopes more girls will be allowed opportunities to play rugby as a result.

Black Ferns celebrate their sixth Rugby World Cup title.
Black Ferns celebrate their sixth Rugby World Cup title. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I never thought in 100 years that we'd be standing out in the middle of Eden Park and 40,000 people would be chanting Black Ferns," Smith said. "Something has ignited this country around women's rugby and we've got to make it count.

"We've got to make it count with seven-year-olds, eight-year-olds, nine-year-olds, 10-year-olds, who all play rippa [rugby], but when they go to high school, there's no team or coach, and they will go play other sports.

"They might come back into it… but many won't and that's what we've got to get right. 

"That was the most phenomenal rugby moment of my life, standing out there and hearing that crowd chanting the names of these girls - it was phenomenal.

"I was head coach of the Crusaders and won in '98 against all odds... against a champion Blues team, no-one gave us a chance.

"I don't think many people gave us a chance today, but probably for me, this will go down as one of the great experiences of my life.

"I love these women, I love what they've had to do to get there, but I love the way they have bought into everything we have done.

"We've got Graham Henry, Mike Cron, Wesley [Clarke], Whitney [Hansen], Allan Bunting - we've got a great group of coaches here.

"Everything they put into it, these women buy into and they go out and provide it on the field. Whether we were up or down, they kept being true to what we were trying to do.

"It's not just me - we've got great coaches, we've got great girls. This is one of the great experiences of my life."

Smith will now step away from his positions of coach and director of rugby, which he took on earlier this year, but despite bowing out with a win, he admits there was much more at stake than a trophy.

"I said to the team this morning I love them, I'm proud of them, I've never been more proud of a team, win or lose... at the end of the day, I didn't really care," Smith said.

"It's better to win than lose, but we just wanted to go out there and play, and be true to our DNA in what we've been trying to do.

"I'm not going to stay involved, but I will be following these women for the rest of their careers, because it's not just the 23 that ended up on the field today.

"We have some global superstars in the other nine that are going to come through. We've got young props, young midfielders, there's young wingers out there - honestly, there are so many good kids coming through in women's rugby that it's unbelievable.

"I just think the future is great, so I'm going to be following them, but from a different position."