As dominant as the All Blacks have been in men’s rugby over the last decade, the Black Ferns have arguably been even further ahead of the curve than the rest in the women’s game.
So, when Ireland won 17-14 when the sides met at Rugby World Cup 2014 in France, becoming the first Irish team to beat a New Zealand team at any level – two years before the U20s and senior men followed suit – it was a result that shook the rugby world.
And this Sunday you can watch history being made in Marcoussis as the whole match is being streamed live via the official Rugby World Cup Facebook page and World Rugby’s official YouTube channel, at 16:00 BST.
The Black Ferns went into the match at Marcoussis on the back of an incredible 20-match unbeaten run at Rugby World Cups dating back to their semi-final loss to the USA in 1991, and at 8-0 up after 26 minutes, no-one expected anything other than a win for the red-hot favourites.
Selica Winiata’s try and a Kelly Brazier penalty had put them in command of the scoreboard, but Ireland dug deep and hit back with a converted try, scored at the bottom of the post by Heather O’Brien, to only trail by a point at half-time.
Brazier increased New Zealand’s lead to 11-7 with her second penalty before winger Alison Miller wrote her name into Irish rugby folklore with a crucial try.
“The ball came back to Niamh Briggs and knowing that she can always make something happen out of nothing, you always know to try and get with her to try and support her,” explained Miller, now retired.
“She took off and eventually it was a two v one and I just roared for the ball. At the time I knew I was tying up because I’d probably run about 200 metres before that going back and forth over the pitch. My memory was thinking that I wasn’t going to get to the line because I was fading.”
While Miller just had enough in the legs to make it to the corner, Ireland were unable to hold onto their lead as, shortly afterwards, Brazier tied the scores at 14-14 with her third penalty.
But when New Zealand handed Briggs an opportunity to kick for goal in the 70th minute, she made no mistake, slotting the ball through the posts, 15 metres in from touch, to the delight of the large Irish contingent in the crowd.
Ireland held on in a tense finale to deny defending champions New Zealand and ultimately went on to reach the semi-finals. For New Zealand, the defeat ended their hopes of adding a fifth world title to their collection and later meant they missed out on the last four for the first time in RWC history.
“There was no pressure on us, all the pressure was on them, they were the team trying to win the World Cup whereas there wasn’t too much expectation on us. People didn’t even expect us to get out of the group and nobody outside of our group would have expected us to beat New Zealand,” Miller added.
“When the final whistle blew everyone was ecstatic because it was such a huge thing.”