To mark one year to go to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014, we caught up with New Zealand star Kelly Brazier to look back on her winning kick in the 2010 final, the secret to the Black Ferns’ success and next year’s showpiece in France.
With one year to go now to WRWC 2014, how is excitement starting to build about defending the title?
The team is starting to build well, and obviously on the back of a very successful series against England everyone is very excited and looking forward to continuing to build towards the World Cup.
Who do you think will be the main contenders in France next year and why?
I think there are a lot of teams that will be strong, especially now with the inclusion of Sevens. England, Canada, France and the USA I think will all prove tough to beat.
How do you look back on the 2010 tournament in England?
Looking back it was a very successful tournament for us and we built upon each game. But I think that is all behind us now as we are just looking ahead to 2014. A lot of other teams have improved a lot, which has been shown in the last couple of years, so it will be a tough tournament for sure.
England were many people’s favourites to win on home soil, but instead it was a fourth straight title for the Black Ferns ... what were the key factors in New Zealand’s success for you?
I think the team just concentrating on ourselves and not worrying about anyone else, just controlling what we could, and I think this paid off for us.
Is there a particular match that stands out for you from WRWC 2010 and if so, why is that?
Yes, probably the final. I think mainly because we had three yellow cards and it was just such a close game which went right down to the 80th minute.
The final was a great advertisement for women’s rugby and went right down to the wire, with your penalty proving the match-winner – can you remember much about it?
I remember some parts, mainly lining up the kick and just hearing the English fans chanting, and then I guess the last play of the game where EJ (Emma Jensen, our half back) kicked the ball out and hearing the final whistle go!
What was the reaction like when you returned home with the World Cup again?
I wasn’t actually with the team when they returned home as I stayed on and travelled a bit, but there was a lot of support from back home and it made a lot of people happy.
What changes have you noticed in women’s rugby since the last tournament?
A lot more support, and the sport is recognised by more people around the world.
The Black Ferns have just secured a series whitewash over England, how important was it for you to stop that losing run against them?
I guess a year out from the World Cup we were very happy to get back on a winning streak. It gives us huge confidence going forward toward the World Cup, especially as we had a few girls that had not won a game in the black jersey so I think it was huge for us to win the series 3-0.
How important have these three years of Tests been for New Zealand rugby, given the lack of Tests you had going into WRWC 2010?
I think it has been awesome to play one of the top teams in the world more consistently. It gives us a chance to see where we are at and what we need to work on. Especially after the last couple of years where we had not beaten them since 2010, that showed us we need to do more as there are a lot of teams now that have caught up and it’s not like it used to be.
The third Test was the performance you’d been looking for ... does that give you and the team confidence as you build towards WRWC 2014?
Yes, like I said it gives our team huge confidence going forward, obviously there is a lot more to work on but a year out I think we are in a good place.
Playing Tests at home is a rarity for New Zealand, how important was the series from the point of view?
For me and the majority of the team it was our first time playing on home soil, so that was motivation in itself. Having not played on home soil we all wanted to play well and win in front of our home crowds. We had huge support at all three of the Tests so it was just awesome to win and have our friends, family, and public following us.
The series win capped off a remarkable year for New Zealand women’s rugby with the World Series title, RWC Sevens win and the Test victories – what is the secret to this success?
I think everyone knows how close all the countries are now. We have just gone away and worked hard and worried about ourselves. Also the team camaraderie is amazing in both the Sevens and Fifteens teams which I think plays a huge part in the teams’ successes.
How have you enjoyed the challenges of Sevens and Fifteens over the last year?
I have loved it, just having rugby all year round. It has been busy and challenging but I would have it no other way.
What are your hopes for the year ahead leading to WRWC 2014?
For the Black Ferns to keep building ahead of the World Cup, and personally to play my best to try and earn a spot in the Black Ferns team to go to this tournament.