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Five world crowns, including four straight between 1998 and 2010, are without a doubt great moments in Black Ferns history. But they’re far from the only ones. Here are 10 memorable moments as they prepare for their 100th test on Monday morning (NZT), when they play England in Exeter.
First World Cup win
There’s nothing like a maiden world title, which the Black Ferns accomplished in the Netherlands in 1998.
Led by skipper Farah Palmer, who in 2016 became the first woman to sit on the NZ Rugby board, they went undefeated in the first tournament granted official status by World Rugby.
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The tournament featured 16 teams, although none came close to the Kiwis, who thrashed the USA 42-12 in the final on the back of Vanessa Cootes’ five tries.
Black Fern and NZ women’s sevens player is now a World Rugby Hall of Famer.
Biggest win in team history
Talk about making a statement in their first official World Cup match, hammering Germany by a whopping 128 points in the Netherlands in 1998.
Their 134-6 demolition job remains their largest win in team history, although they gave it a decent nudge four years later, also against Germany, with a 117-0 pasting.
It was the third time they cracked triple figures, having blitzed France 109-0 in 1996.
Portia Woodman scores eight tries in a game
The Black Ferns also cracked triple figures against Hong Kong in 2017, making it the fourth ton in team history.
Woodman was the chief destroyer, making a mockery of their hapless opposition by running in a World Cup record eight tries.
On a day the Black Ferns chalked up 19 tries, the powerful wing came up two short of the world record, held by Hong Kong player Ashley Billington, who scored 10 tries against Singapore in 1994.
The Black Ferns made it back-to-back world titles in 2002, when they defended their crown in Barcelona.
Again led by Palmer, they cruised through to the final on the back of emphatic wins against Germany, Australia and France, before scraping past England (19-9) in the final.
Hall of Fame
Palmer and Anna Richards made history in 2014, when they became the first Black Ferns to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.
Richards, a hard-nosed but skilful pivot, won four World Cups during her two decades in the team, and was still playing tests in her 40s.
The Black Ferns lost just once under Palmer’s captaincy, with the skipper playing 35 tests before retiring in 2006.
Fiao’o Faamausili makes history
When Fiao’o Faamausili ran out against Canada in the 2017 World Cup in Ireland, she became the first Black Fern to notch 50 tests.
Considered one of the best rakes in the game, Faamausili marked the occasion by scoring a try in the 48-5 romp in Dublin.
A police detective by trade, she debuted for the Black Ferns in 2002, ten years before taking over the captaincy.
Faamausili played in a whopping five World Cups, before retiring in 2018.
They did it again in 2006, this time in Canada.
As was the case the previous two World cups, the Black Ferns were dominant on their way to reaching the final, recording blow out wins against Canada, Samoa, Scotland and France.
Having conceded just 17 points on their way to the decider, the final was another tight one against England, with the Black Ferns grinding out a 25-17 win.
Black Ferns players offered semi-professional contracts
In what was hailed as a landmark deal between New Zealand Rugby and the players’ association, semi-professional contracts were put on the table for Black Ferns in 2018.
“I honestly believe it’s a really good deal and we’ve got to be positive about it. It’s a start,” Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge said at the time.
In basic terms, 30 of the country’s best female 15s players stood to earn $40,000-$45,000 a year, with the contracted players to assemble for 50 days as part of their national duty.
At the time, then NZR general manager of rugby Neil Sorensen said the Black Ferns would enjoy terms and conditions equivalent to a “fifth-year Super Rugby player”.
Back-to-back-to-back-to-back. The Black Ferns made it four straight World Cup crowns after edging hosts England 13-10 in a nail-biting final.
Kelly Brazier, who scored a tournament-best 48 points, and Carla Hohepa scored all 13 of the Black Ferns’ points in the final, making it three-straight wins against England in World Cup deciders.
England would win the 2014 tournament in France, where the Black Ferns lost to Ireland and finished fifth.
Back on top of the world
The bitter disappointment of their fifth-placed finish in 2014 was buried three years later in Ireland, when the Black Ferns toppled reigning champions England 41-32 in a cracking final.
Prop Toka Natua bagged a hat-trick in the win, scoring before halftime to give her side a 17-10 lead at the split, and again shortly after play resumed.
Fullback Selica Winiata was also key, crossing twice via Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali cross-field kicks in the high-scoring match.
“We dug deep. England really gave it to us in that first 15-20 minutes. But our girls showed the character in our team, the culture in our team and I could not be any prouder,” Black Ferns skipper Fa’amausili said after the final whistle.