Black Ferns brush history as incredible mark beckons

New Zealand’s Black Ferns have lost their last four contests with France.

However, that means little to coach Wayne Smith who will hope to continue his unbeaten record with the Rugby World Cup hosts.

Smith, who took on the role this year from Glenn Moore, has 10 wins to his credit thus far.

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At the end of the year, he’ll retire and end a coaching career that stems back to the mid-1980s and included two stints as assistant coach of the All Blacks.

As he heads towards becoming only the fourth Black Ferns coach to finish with a 100 per cent win record, Smith said there’s little point looking at past results for a form guide.

“I don’t think history gives you an edge,” he said.

“I told the girls a story about 2007 when we [the All Blacks] beat France, 61-10, in Wellington.

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“Four months later they beat us in the quarter-final of the World Cup. History counts for nothing. You need to be up, week by week.

“We’ve said all along that we’ve got a lot of ground to make up,” he added.

“We got some hidings on the end-of-year tour last year. Again, there’s pride at stake I think and we’ll have a good week preparing for this.

“What I’ve seen from [France], they’re extremely efficient. Great defensive team, do things well, they’ve got some good players. It’s going to be a battle.”

New Zealand lost in consecutive Tests to France last year by sizeable margins.

In their first spring tour match, they lost 38-13. A week later they went down 29-7.

The last time New Zealand beat France was in 2018 when they triumphed 14-0.

New Zealand has only faced France on nine occasions – five of those were wins.

Smith admitted that he’s not sure which way the forthcoming semi-final will fall.

New Zealand conceded 17 points early to Australia in their first Pool A match only to respond with 41 unanswered points.

Their subsequent games against Wales and Scotland were walkovers, winning 56-12 and 57-0 respectively.

“Seventeen-nil against Australia was testing,” remarked Smith.

“We’ve had to battle through some games. Even [against Wales in the quarter-final] we had to battle through the start. They were really into us. We were into them as well.

“It is what it is. Who knows if we’ve been tested enough or not? I’ve never coached against this French team. I’ve only really seen them play in this tournament and a couple of games when I watched the end -of-year tour last year. It’ll be interesting.”

The first semi-final of this year’s Rugby World Cup will take place between Canada and favorites England on Saturday, November 5 at 2.30pm (AEDT).

Hosts New Zealand will face France the same day at 5.30pm (AEDT).

Both semi-final matches will be played at Eden Park as will the bronze medal match and the final a week later on Saturday, November 12.

The Blacks Ferns have won five of the last six Rugby World Cup competitions.

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