AUCKLAND, Nov 13 (Reuters) – New Zealand’s women’s Rugby World Cup-winning captain Ruahei Demant praised the backing her Black Ferns team received on their way to winning the title but called for more support to help further grow the sport.
The tournament hosts handed favourites England a 34-31 defeat in the final at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday in front of a record crowd of 42,579 to successfully defend their title.
“The level of support we’ve received from our country has been really overwhelming,” Demant said.
“As players none of us really expected this. It’s still quite surreal to turn up to Eden Park … to walk out of the tunnel and you can’t even think because it’s so loud.
“In the past when we’ve had the opportunity to travel abroad and play teams like England or France in their countries, their fans are next level.
“I was quite worried when they announced we had a home World Cup. But the way the country’s turned out, you couldn’t have scripted it. It’s been unreal.”
New Zealand have now won the title at six of the nine World Cup tournaments played and prevailed despite the significant advances made by teams from the northern hemisphere.
England, who had gone 30 games unbeaten ahead of Saturday’s final, and France had both handed the Black Ferns heavy defeats last year during their tour of Europe and Demant called for more exposure for her team against other leading nations.
“It would be awesome to get more fixtures against northern hemisphere teams – as we’ve seen the style of game they play is very different to ours,” she said.
“More resources, I guess, thrown into women’s rugby, so that we can be taken a bit more seriously and put more time and effort into our footy.”
Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by William Mallard
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