Having lost the previous three finals to New Zealand, England ended 20 years without the Rugby World Cup trophy with a 21-9 victory over first-time finalists Canada in front of a near-capacity 22,000 crowd at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris.
Always the bridesmaids ...
New Zealand’s shock pool defeat to Ireland had removed a considerable hurdle in England’s quest to put past disappointments behind them and add to their one and only previous success back in 1994.
Four England players had been involved in the two previous final defeats – forwards Rocky Clark, Tamara Taylor and Maggie Alphonsi and full-back Danielle Waterman – and they were determined not to experience the same feeling again. Not that anyone in the England camp was taking Canada lightly following a 13-13 draw with the North Americans eight days earlier.
For the first hour, the final rematch was equally tight with three penalties from goal-kicking winger Magali Harvey – who was named the IRB Women's Player of the Year after the final – keeping the Canadians within touching distance.
England only led 11-9 at that point, despite dominating territory and possession, with Waterman’s converted try – a real team effort – the difference between the sides.
Emily Scarratt kicked her third penalty to give England a bit more breathing space before she hit a trademark line at pace to scythe through a jaded Canadian defence seven minutes from time and score the game-clinching try.
“That first try involving Maggie, Tamara and Danielle was something special: they were all playing in their third World Cup final,” said Gary Street, the Red Roses head coach. “It’s no secret that the last defeat in 2010 [13-10 by New Zealand in the final] really hurt us, so this time we just had to do it. The only thing in our minds was to go through the tournament and out the other side.”
Canada captain Kelly Russell said: "It was a big, physical game from both sides. I am so proud of the girls, they put everything they had into it. Credit to England, they were the better team today."
Over the weekend, two more matches are available to watch:
- Saturday, 25 April – South Africa v New Zealand – RWC 1995 – 19:00 BST
- Sunday, 26 April – Scotland v Samoa – RWC 2015 – 16:00 BST