Cohesion is key for England as giants jersey of game do battle

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Two enormous yellow shipbuilding cranes dominate the Belfast skyline and are impossible Authentic Audie Cole Youth Jersey to miss. Situated in the Titanic quarter and looming large over the city, they are known locally as Samson and Goliath, and considering England versus New Zealand is the final the Women’s World Cup has been craving, pitting by a distance the two giants of the game against each other, it is an apt backdrop for Saturday night’s showdown.It is also a match-up that has a familiar ring to it – while the men’s game must make do with verbal sparring from Eddie Jones and Steve Hansen until next autumn, the Red Roses and the Black Ferns are no strangers to each other. England won in Rotorua in June, New Zealand at The Stoop in November and they have contested three previous World Cup finals. New Zealand have won all three but the most recent came in 2010 and because the standard of women’s rugby has improved immeasurably since then, only so much can be read into that.
Furthermore, England are the defending champions – although they have not readily acknowledged as much as the tournament has progressed. Simon Middleton’s players have repeatedly said they are setting about “winning the World Cup, not defending it” and if that sounds like the anodyne result of media training, it is. Perhaps it should not be surprising that England have been on-message throughout but we will have to wait to learn what they really think of their professional contracts coming to an abrupt end until the tournament is over, when hopefully their stiff upper lips become a little looser.If New Zealand are to be cast as Goliath, Samson is the better fit for England, if for no other reason than they are about to be shorn of the very thing that makes them so strong. They are a side littered with very good players but they do not have a star who shines brighter than the rest as New Zealand do in Portia Woodman. Rather England’s greatest strength is their cohesion, which has been developed thanks to the amount of time spent together, as a result of professionalism.
And to fully grasp why, 2014 is the best starting point. England’s World Cup triumph – their first since 1994 – catapulted them on to the front pages but a shift of focus to sevens resulted in a fourth-place finish in the following Six Nations and an opportunity missed. Considering the head Authentic Lonnie Chisenhall Womens Jersey coach, Gary Street, left his role only a few months after that success, in circumstances never fully explained, it would also appear the RFU did not learn its lessons from history, judging by the parlous state the men’s side found themselves in after Clive Woodward’s exit soon after the 2003 triumph.We can only hope, therefore, that if victory materialises on Saturday night it is seized upon. Soon after England’s gruelling semi-final victory over France, ITV confirmed it would screen the final in its prime-time Saturday night slot on its main channel and Emily Scarratt’s face lit up as she was told. The semi-final, broadcast on ITV4, still managed more than a million viewers but the fact that in France the number peaked at more than three million demonstrates the potential audience.
The RFU hopes a new-look domestic Premiership will help – there is no doubting it is a positive move – but it requires only a cursory glance at the struggles of football’s Women’s Super League for much in the way of column inches to appreciate that internationals are paramount. Which is why a focus on sevens will be detrimental. Why would anyone inspired by this World Cup turn out to watch next year’s Six Nations if so many of the familiar faces will be absent?
Not all hope is lost, however. The RFU has defended its decision to end a number of XVs contracts by pointing to the 17 full-time sevens contracts it will award and the businessman Simon Pennock, chairman of the sports sponsorship company SNAP and Lions Academy, has offered a financial lifeline to those who will soon be out of a job.The RFU, for the time being, is, like the England squad, not addressing the matter publicly and before those obstacles are tackled, New Zealand must be first. The Black Ferns will be the sternest challenge England have faced so far and are marginal favourites.
In England’s favour is the fact that as impressive as New Zealand have been, they have not been truly tested yet. The USA were certainly competitive in their semi-final and Canada, opponents during the pool stages, began the tournament ranked third in the world but both North American sides are more accomplished at sevens – neither is as well versed as, say, England or France in the finer points of XVs. England, on the other hand, are battle-hardened after their victory over a ferocious French side, although considering this is a fifth match in 18 days that may still work against them.If the backroom staff have been earning their corn and if England can stiffen the sinews once more, back-to-back World Cup triumphs are attainable. The pack is a well-oiled machine, in open play they have the best kicking game in the world and, as demonstrated against France, they have a remarkably resilient defence. England take to the pitch on Saturday with an awful lot more than a slingshot in their armoury.


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