Rugby World Cup: Why semi-final win over France was better than Olympic gold for star Ruby Tui

The Black Ferns' Rugby World Cup semi-final victory over France at Eden Park rated even higher than New Zealand's Tokyo Olympics gold medal win, star winger Ruby Tui says.

In arguably the game of the tournament, the Black Ferns came within one missed kick of not reaching next week's decider, as Caroline Drouin's final penalty attempt couldn't hit the target.

As Kendra Cocksedge cleared the ball into touch in her penultimate test, the Black Ferns advanced, courtesy of the 25-24 win.

Victory broke a string of four consecutive defeats for the Black Ferns against France, including two on last year's end-of-year tour, where New Zealand went winless.

As a serial winner in rugby sevens, Tui swapped to 15s after New Zealand's gold-medal victory at Tokyo last year, as a boost for the side at their lowest.

While the upswing in results can't be put solely down to Tui's presence, the team are undefeated since the arrival of her, fellow sevens converts and coach Wayne Smith.

Saturday's win was redemption for Tui and her teammates - and worth more than triumph in Tokyo.

"The end-of-year tour hurt, it hurt everyone in women's rugby," Tui told Newshub. "I wasn't even there and I took it personally.

"I knew the girls that went over had some more in them. Those of us that are lucky enough to represent the whole of the Black Ferns whanau, we had a job to do tonight, we had a point to prove.

"Not only did we not lose, I think we put on one of the most epic games, most epic semis.

Ruby Tui and Renee Holmes.
Ruby Tui and Renee Holmes. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"I played against France in the Olympic final - that was way cooler. Everyone singing along to the anthem, singing the Maori kupu [words], knowing what the haka means, looking around seeing all the poi, it was something incredible.

"I hope New Zealand comes down and packs out for the final. We've worked our absolute butts off to get there, it has not been easy.

"Absolute props to the French, that was an amazing side we played."

Up next, the Black Ferns will face England in next Saturday's final - arguably the toughest ask in the global game.

England's semi-final victory against Canada was the Red Roses' 30th straight test victory, with the side planning to make it No.31 next weekend.

While Smith is taking the role of the underdog, Tui claims the Black Ferns won't die wondering, as they chase a sixth Rugby World Cup crown.

"You absolutely have to give it to the English. I think both the semis tonight were really, really good games. 

The Black Ferns celebrate Stacey Fluhler's try against France.
The Black Ferns celebrate Stacey Fluhler's try against France. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"To be the best, you've got to beat the best. We didn't just take the loss last year against France personally, you see what happened with the English as well.

"They've been doing amazing the last couple of years. We've still got a job to do - it ain't over.

"We'll be chasing everything and hopefully be able to do our country proud."

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