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Women's rugby at crossroads after Black Ferns slump

Published: 7:45AM Monday December 03, 2012 Source: Fairfax

While the New Zealand's women's sevens team were reaching new heights yesterday by winning the IRB tournament in Dubai, 7000km away at Twickenham the women's XV team sunk to a new low.

The Black Ferns lost 32-23 to England, thus completing an embarrassing whitewash.

Women's rugby in New Zealand stands at a crossroads.

Either money and resources are injected into the main form of the game, in time for the 2014 World Cup in France, or the NZRU turns its back completely and focuses on sevens in search of a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Yesterday's test at England's rugby HQ was similar to the previous losses in Esher and Aldershot, the Black Ferns were competitive but England had more structure to their game and were able to go up another level when required.

Rawina Everitt, Selica Winiata and Kendra Cocksedge scored the Black Ferns' tries while Katherine Merchant (twice), Emily Scarratt, Rosemarie Crowley and Joanne Watmore bagged England's five pointers.

"It was disappointing obviously," said Black Ferns coach Brian Evans.

"We played some nice rugby but we missed too many first-up tackles and that killed us."

Next year England will play three tests in New Zealand, but they are the only games on the Black Ferns' schedule.

The NZRU has continually taken the Black Ferns domination for granted and they sent them away for this series without any warm-up games and they hadn't played together for a year before this trip.

"We haven't been good enough and they've been better than us for sure, but in the next year or so we'll be up there."

But that will depend on whether the country's best players choose to play XVs or go for gold with sevens, which was the case with some for this tour.

"There are some players there that we'd dearly love to have," Evans said.

In Dubai, the New Zealand women's sevens team beat South Africa 41-0 in the final having already defeated Australia 28-14 and England 31-0 in their semifinal and quarterfinal respectively.

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