England insist they have no intention of altering their striker-dominated game plan after a 41-5 win over Australia staged a Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final against Canada.
England’s seven tries against the Wallaroos have come from their tough pack with captain Sarah Hunter and head coach Simon Middleton adamantly their side’s first lane approach offers the best chance of world dominance.
So far, no team in the tournament has been able to face England’s maul. Hunter, who is now the most capped player in her country’s rugby history, said: “There’s been a lot of talk about the maul behind the wheel and how we score tries. But, in the end, no one will look back and say, ‘Oh, how did England score?’
“They look at the result and if it’s not broken you don’t need to fix it. I don’t think there are worries within ourselves about how we want to play or what we’re doing at the minute. If that doesn’t work, we know we have other things to do.
Middleton, likewise, thinks England have no need to apologize and no need to copy New Zealand, whose backs looked extremely sharp in their quarter-final win over Wales. “It takes all kinds,” said Middleton, whose team has now won 29 Tests at the trot. “Rugby doesn’t have to be play, play, play and change, change, change. This is southern hemisphere rugby – fantastic. We are on the side of the northern hemisphere. We are very good at what we do, they are very good at what they do. You play to your strengths and I don’t really recognize the critics.
“Does this frustrate me? Probably a little. This baffles me a bit. You cut your fabric accordingly. We have many facets. Against Fiji and South Africa we played as good rugby as anyone. We moved the ball and scored some great tries.
Middleton said England played the perfect match for the wet conditions against Australia. “The forwards knew what kind of game it was going to be. They understood and delivered. I think they got into our 22 for about 30 seconds.
With the Black Ferns now set to face France, he says the host country should be seen as the tournament favourites. “They’re hot, aren’t they?” They are at home, they have demolished everyone. Everyone labels us favorites but they don’t do anything we don’t and they have home advantage. They must be the favorites of the competition.