A thrilling Women’s Rugby Super Series ended with victory for New Zealand and an improved rating for the triumphant Black Ferns.

New Zealand’s status as the world’s number one side was under threat with England set to take over at the top if they won Sunday’s title decider in San Diego. However, a hat-trick from Renee Wickliffe helped the Black Ferns to a 28-13 win against the previously unbeaten Red Roses.


New Zealand's victory was worth a fraction over one rating point and the gap between themselves and England is now 1.76 points.

Having bounced back from their narrow 20-18 loss to England on Wednesday with an emphatic 53-14 win over hosts USA, France move up to third in the rankings, with an improved rating of 87.36 points. Canada drop a place to fourth with the Women’s Eagles in fifth.

Wallaroos start new era with win

With the Super Series title secured, the Black Ferns now turn their attention to a two-test series against Australia next month.

With four debutants in the run-on side and five more on the bench, a new-look Wallaroos took time to get into their stride in the first of their two tests against Japan but they eventually came good to win their first run out of the year 34-5.

It was also Australia's first test victory on home soil.

Three players – Averyl Mitchell, Ariana Hira-Herangi and Eva Karpani – scored on debut in Newcastle, while captain Grace Hamilton was named player of the match. Australia’s other tries came from Trilleen Pomare, Mhicca Carter and Samantha Treherne, who also kicked three conversions.

Australia and Japan, who meet again on Friday in the second and final test of the series, remain unchanged in seventh and 16th place respectively.

Lionesses roar to victory

A busy weekend of international rugby also saw the conclusion of the Elgon Cup with Kenya’s Lionesses backing up their 44-14 home win over Uganda in the first leg in June with a 35-5 victory in the return match, to win 79-19 on aggregate.

After Grace Adhiambo slotted two penalties, Kenya scored tries through Leah Wambui and captain Philadelphia Olando, the second converted by Adhiambo, to lead 18-0 at half-time.

Stella Wafula scored Kenya’s third before Olando bagged her brace, Adhiambo converting to make the scoreline 30-0. A fifth Kenya try was followed by a late consolation for the Lady Cranes.

Attention for the two teams now turns to the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 qualifier that will be held in South Africa in August.

Kenya will go into the four-team tournament on a high, their Elgon Cup victory having been accompanied by a gain of 1.14 rating points which has seen them overtake Guyana, Romania and Norway in the rankings and up to a best-ever position of 28th. Uganda drop three places to 44th.

Elsewhere in Africa, Zambia beat their hosts Zimbabwe 19-18 in Harare on Saturday and enter the rankings for the first time as a result. Zambia’s new rating of 41.37 points puts them in 35th position and condemns Zimbabwe to a four-place fall to 41st.