San Francisco: New Zealand’s Black Ferns sealed their status as the dominant force in women’s rugby here on Saturday, successfully defending their World Cup Sevens crown less than a year after winning the 15-a-side title.
Michaela Blyde was the star for the New Zealanders with a brilliant hat-trick as France were crushed 29-0 in a one-sided final at AT&T Park.
Blyde’s treble took her tally to the tournament to nine tries, crowning a superb weekend for the 22-year-old, the reigning women’s world sevens player of the year.
“To be able to do that in a rugby World Cup final is incredible, unforgettable,” said Blyde. “But I wouldn’t be able to do it without the girls who are out on the field with me.
“They’re the workhorses who create the space on the outside for me to do what I do.”
The victory follows New Zealand’s victory in the women’s 15-a-side World Cup last year, as well as their gold medal in the Commonwealth Games sevens competition in April.
New Zealand are also the first team to win the back-to-back women’s World Sevens titles after their win in Moscow in 2013.
“We’ve made history now, so we’re pretty happy with ourselves,” Blyde said.
France, who had earlier stunned Olympic champions Australia to reach the final for the first time, were never in contention. Blyde opened the scoring in the final for New Zealand, who weathered some ferocious French tackling before cutting loose.
New Zealand captain Sarah Goss set up a second try for Portia Woodman before Tyla Nathan-Wong’s clever run made it 15-0 at the break.
Blyde added two more converted scores after the interval as New Zealand completed a superb campaign which saw them register three shutouts in four games.
Their toughest game came in the semi-finals earlier Saturday, when they were pushed all the way in a 26-21 win over the United States.