22 May 2024

Slack Ferns: Discipline the key focus after shock loss

10:19 am on 22 May 2024

Reducing penalties, making better decisions and getting onside with referees.

If that story sounds familiar, it is because it is for the Black Ferns.

Their newest chapter of unwanted history was written on Sunday in Christchurch with a first ever loss to Canada, but the reasons why are unfortunately a recurring theme.

However, Ruby Tui is upbeat about the team's progression as they prepare to face the Wallaroos this Saturday at North Harbour Stadium.

"It becomes learnings for the next one, you know," Tui said.

"So, it's actually the decisions we make now and how we turn that around."

Tui confirmed that discipline and decision-making had been front and centre of the team's post-match review, which resulted in some "honest conversations".

The Black Ferns conceded two yellow cards on Sunday, last year in their loss to France they had a player sent off, something that also happened in a narrow win over traditional easy beats the USA.

"I said I'm actually quite proud of our team and our coaches. The discussions we had, they're really honest. And yeah, I think moving forward how we got a couple of yeah focuses," Tui said.

The Black Ferns let a 14-3 lead slip to the fired-up Canadians, who were unlucky to not take a 27-14 lead late in the game due to a very debatable disallowed try. Aurelie Groizeleau's penalty count against the home side was roughly double that against the Canadians, whose captain Sophie de Goede was a constant presence in the French referee's ear.

Ref Aurelie Groizeleau.

Ref Aurelie Groizeleau. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2024 www.photosport.nz

Tui conceded that "working" a referee was something the Black Ferns needed to work on.

"As you go up in the levels, it definitely becomes more and more paramount. We have actually been having lots of meetings. Polly's (NZR referee boss Chris Pollock) come in and we've been working on the best kind of strategy for that, because I think you can overdo it. And I think there are some captains that can lead to overdoing it."

Another stark statistic was the fact that the Canadians made 250 tackles to the Black Ferns' 101, meaning a massively disproportionate amount of possession was squandered in the 21-19 loss.

With just over a year and half until the Black Ferns defend their World Cup title in England, Tui said that the team's make up and playing style will almost certainly change in that time.

"I think it's actually perfect timing for a bit of a shakeup," she said.

"And we want healthy competition within the team, so that those kind of things actually elevate those things that we want to try and create in the team."

After this weekend's match, the Black Ferns will have to wait until 14 July for a return match against the Wallaroos in Brisbane. However, most attention will be on their next fixture after that, against England at Twickenham in front of a potential world record crowd.

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