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Best player, best try and more of The42's WRWC awards

It’s all over for four more years, here are some of the women who made the last three weeks a joy to watch.

THE EIGHTH INSTALLMENT of the Women’s Rugby World Cup finished up on Saturday and while it may have delivered a one, two, three finish of New Zealand, England and France for the third time, there was plenty of heartbreak, frustration and thrilling rugby in the journey along the way.

Now that the dust is settled and all 12 teams have decamped away from the bubbles that were their home in UCD and Belfast over the last three weeks, here are some gongs we wanted to hand out to the worthy.

Player of the Tournament

Portia Woodman was a cut above.

England v New Zealand - 2017 Women's World Cup Final - Kingspan Stadium Source: Brian Lawless

It’s easy to see the Sevens superstar as an out-and-out finisher because… well, she is and she gets on the end of her fair share of chances. But her contribution is far from limited to that.

Her jaw-dropping power in space and contact was continually put to use all over the park for the Black Ferns as they reclaimed their title. Be it stretching defenders just by her presence, smashing carries with wanton intent, trundling over them like speedbumps or even smashing rucks like her life depended on it, the woman is a phenomenon.

From the moment she first squeezed the throttle on day one against Wales, taking the long way around the defence before offloading back in to Selica Winiata, it was clear the Ferns had a weapon that would take some stopping. She played all 400 minutes in this tournament, and while she didn’t score in every match, no team went off the field feeling they really thwarted her.

Try of the Tournament

Canada were disappointing in the pool stage, but faced with Wales in on matchday four they hit their stride and the sublime Tommy Bowe-esque finish from Elissa Alerie came after some excellent offloading and swift passing.

Source: World Rugby/YouTube

#PropTry of the tournament

We couldn’t go past our favourite scores without a mention for Sosoli Talawadua. Her try came against Hong Kong, but the loosehead was the beneficiary of exemplary Kiwi offloading and trail runs that don’t give defenders a chance.

Source: World Rugby/YouTube

Ireland’s try of the Tournament

As ever, Ali Miller’s attacking threat was a shining light for Ireland and her terrific gather of Jenny Murphy’s kick and swerving finish gave hope that finishing on a high was still possible…

Source: World Rugby/YouTube

Utter joy to watch of the Tournament

Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali is not built like any other number 10.

Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali makes a break Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In truth, when she first walks out of the tunnel, the zero on her back looks like a digit in error. In a game where your physical make-up can too often determine which position you play while your handling skill defines how well, she breaks the mould.

Yet it’s not just her devastating impact on the field that made her a stand-out in this tournament. Outside gametime she was a class apart too. Pre-match, she unleashes a torrent of passion, arching her back and tilted her mouth skywards to belt out the final strains of her anthem – and that, after bending knees and clicking fingers as she danced through the earlier portion.

Throughout the pool stage, New Zealand were alotted early kick-off times and small groups of black-clad players were a relatively common site at later games and around the fanzone. VSN always seemed to be among the group.

Her backpack emblazoned with number 10, she never opted to go incognito despite rarely having long to sit in space, peace and quiet. VSN never shirked a photo, an autograph or joke as she mixed casually with the fans around campus.

England v New Zealand - 2017 Women's World Cup Final - Kingspan Stadium Source: Brian Lawless

It was on the field though, that VSN really helped light up the tournament. As a first receiver, she continually used her frame to take contact and power over gainlines for her team. And on top of the offloads that followed, she also displayed the skills you would expect from a number 10 in a black jersey; sumptuous passing to cut out defenders or pin-point cross-field kicks that proved so effective in the final against England.

Subritzky-Nafatali didn’t make it to the highlight reel of tries jam-packed with speedsters, but anyone watching New Zealand play in this tournament had to take notice of her.

World Cup 2017 arch villain

Curse you Caroline Ladagnous. Why did you and France have to be so damn good!

Source: FF Rugby/YouTube

Team of the Tournament

15. Selica Winiata (New Zealand)
14. Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
13. Caroline Ladagnous (France)
12. Kelly Brazier (New Zealand)
11. Naya Tapper (USA)
10. Katy McLean (England)
9. Natasha Hunt (England)

1. Vickii Cornborough (England)
2. Fiao’o Faamausili (New Zealand)
3. Sarah Bern (England)
4. Lenaig Corson (France)
5. Tamara Taylor (England)
6. Marlie Packer (England)
7.  Romane Menager (France)
8. Safi N’Diaye (France)

Replacements:

16. Amy Cokayne (Emgland)
17. Lindsay Peat (Ireland)
18. Aldora Itunu (New Zealand)
19. Marie Louise Reilly (Ireland)
20. Ciara Griffin (Ireland)
21. Kendra Cocksedge (New Zealand)
22. Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali (New Zealand)
23. Monserrat Amedee (France)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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