England have won the inaugural WXV1 women’s tournament, beating New Zealand 33-12 in Auckland on Saturday in an emphatic rebound from last year’s Rugby World Cup final.
It was the perfect celebration for captain Marlie Packer, named Women’s 15s Player of the Year after the win.
The powerful and cohesive England Roses had too much muscle for the world champions, avenging their dramatic 34-31 loss to the Black Ferns in the final of the global tournament — also in Auckland — when their record 30-match winning streak ended.
A robust English pack ensured there would be no repeat, dominating the world champions up front and scoring all five of their tries through forwards barging over from close range.
New Zealand’s attacking style was stifled for much of the contest, aside from the middle period, when they created tries to Kennedy Simon and Katelyn Vaha’akolo on either side of the interval.
England established early control through tries to Alex Matthews, Lark Atkin-Davies and Sarah Bern inside the first 23 minutes.
A 19-0 lead was reduced to 19-12 before Morwenna Talling and Zoe Aldcroft crossed to make the outcome safe.
England captain Packer said her team had progressed throughout the tournament.
“Every game, we grew as a group and I’m just super proud of that performance,” dynamic flanker Packer said.
“Beating New Zealand in their own back yard, there’s no better feeling and they put on a fantastic game for us tonight.
“We just want to keep growing and keep inspiring future rugby players.”
World number one England were the only team to go unbeaten through the first edition of the top-tier WXV1 tournament in New Zealand, with Packer one of six players included in the Team of the Year.
“[I’m on] cloud nine. To be honest, when I got tired, I actually had some tears,” Packer said.
England won all three of their matches in comfortable style, including defeats of Australia and Canada, who both won their two other games to share second place.
Second-ranked New Zealand placed fourth, after losing their opener against France, with outside back Katelyn Vahaakolo crowned World Rugby Women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year.
The French lost their last two games — including an upset 29-20 defeat against Canada on Saturday – to be fifth while winless Wales were sixth.