Rugby World Cup Final: Black Ferns v England at Auckland's Eden Park - What you need to know

Black Ferns v England

When: Saturday, November 12, 7:30pm kickoff

Where: Eden Park, Auckland

Referee: Holle Davidson (Scotland) 

Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa) & Aurelie Groizeleau (France)

TV match official: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

TAB Odds: England $1.55, NZ $2.50, draw $18


About 12 months ago, with the NZ women reeling from their disastrous northern hemisphere tour - including record defeats to England and France - very few would have put money on this match-up at the World Cup final.

The Black Ferns had lost two tests to the French by 25 and 22 points, after being dispatched by the 'Red Roses' to the tune of 31 and 41 points.

Over two years of COVID-19 isolation, the reigning world champions had slipped behind their closest rivals in terms of performance on the field and professionalism off it.

Arriving home, their team culture was also subjected to a thorough examination, with accusations of favouritism, ghosting and body-shaming levelled at team management, after veteran hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate revealed she had suffered a mental health breakdown during the tour.   

Under pressure, World Cup-winning coach Glenn Moore stood down from his position, replaced by 'Professor' Wayne Smith, who had previously helped mastermind two World Cup triumphs for the All Blacks.

Team culture was restructured under Olympic champion Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting and first-five Ruahei Demant named captain, later joined by loose forward Kennedy Simon.

While all this took place, England were relentlessly building a formidable unbeaten run that now extends to 30 games, since their last loss to New Zealand at San Diego in 2019 - their only lapse since their World Cup defeat to the same opponents two years before at Belfast.

The English have looked formidable throughout this tournament, accounting for France in poolplay and holding off a surprising challenge from Canada in last week's semis.

England celebrate their semi-final victory over Canada
England celebrate their semi-final victory over Canada. Photo credit: Photosport

The Black Ferns have had some anxious moments along the way, trailling by 17 points early in their opener against Australia and exposed among the forwards by Wales the following week.

But they set the record straight against the Welsh in their quarter-final and have played an exciting brand of rugby that has drawn their home fans behind them, with a soldout crowd of more than 40,000 expected at Eden Park for the final.

The fixture will send veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge into retirement, after a career that saw her named NZ Rugby Player of the Year - male or female - in 2018. This is her fourth World Cup and her third final, after the Ferns to victory in 2010 and 2017.

Roads to the final

New Zealand beat Australia 41-17, beat Wales 56-12, beat Scotland 57-0, beat Wales 55-3 (quarter-final), beat France (semi-final) 25-24

The Ferns trailled for much their contest against France, but finally edged ahead in the 58th minute, with a converted try to centre Theresa Fitzpatrick, and then had to survive missed penalty in the final seconds to advance.

England beat Fiji 89-19, beat France 13-7, beat South Africa 75-0, beat Australia 41-5 (quarter-final), beat Canada 26-19 (semi-final)

The Red Roses never trailled Canada in their semi, although they needed a penalty to lead 15-12 at halftime and had to withstand a spirited comeback over the final moments to secure their final berth.

Black Ferns celebrate their semi-final win over France
Black Ferns celebrate their semi-final win over France. Photo credit: Photosport


New Zealand and England have met 29 times, with an 18-10 winning record and one draw.

November 2021 - England 56 NZ 15

October 2021 - England 43 NZ 12

July 2019 - NZ 28 England 13


Partly cloudy and isolated showers, with possible thunderstorms through the afternoon and light northwesterlies in Auckland


Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith has brought veteran loose forward Charmaine McMenamin into his starting line-up, with No.8 Liana Mikaele-Tu'u suffering a hand injury against France.

England have also lost fullback Helena Rowland and prop Hannah Botterman to injury.

Black Ferns: 1-Phillipa Love, 2-Georgia Ponsonby, 3-Amy Rule, 4-Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 5-Chelsea Bremner, 6-Alana Bremner, 7-Sarah Hirini, 8-Charmaine McMenamin, 9-Kendra Cocksedge, 10-Ruahei Demant (cc), 11-Portia Woodman, 12-Theresa Fitzpatrick, 13-Stacey Fluhler, 14-Ruby Tui, 15-Renee Holmes

Reserves: 16-Luka Connor, 17-Krystal Murray, 18-Santo Taumata, 19-Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20-Kennedy Simon (cc), 21-Ariana Bayler, 22-Hazel Tubic, 23-Ayesha Leti-I'iga

England: 1-Vickii Cornborough, 2-Amy Cokayne, 3-Sarah Bern, 4-Zoe Aldcroft, 5-Abbie Ward, 6-Alex Matthews, 7-Marlie Packer, 8-Sarah Hunter (captain), 9-Leanne Infante, 10-Zoe Harrison, 11-Abby Dow, 12-Holly Aitchison,13-Emily Scarratt, 14-Lydia Thompson, 15-Ellie Kildunne

Reserves: 16-Lark Davies, 17-Maud Muir, 18-Shaunagh Brown, 19-Cath O'Donnell, 20-Poppy Cleall, 21-Sadia Kabeya, 22-Claudia MacDonald, 23-Tatyana Heard

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