Black Ferns embrace Rugby World Cup defence

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 07:29 30/07/2014
Fiao'o Faamausili
Reuters

READY TO GO: Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Faamausili, third from left, meets the other 11 team captains at the official launch of the Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 in Paris.

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Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Faamausili has told her players to embrace the pressure of defending the World Cup in France.

The tournament was officially launched in Paris overnight with the 12 captains gathering in the shadow of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

New Zealand have won the last four World Cups but look to be under growing pressure from England who they pipped 13-10 in the final four years ago in England.

The English have been involved in the last three finals and are desperate to claim a trophy they last won in 1994.

"We're all here for the same reason, to win the World Cup," Faamausili said.

"There's definitely pressure there but it's how we deal with it, as a captain and as a team. We've told the girls not to think about what's happened in the past, it's about what happens now. We are taking each match as it comes and just enjoying it."

England captain Katy McLean made it clear revenge was on the mind of her team.

"You can't help but look back to something like 2010 which was massive for the women's game but obviously the result wasn't ideal for us," she said.

"That was really tough but four years later you have to move on, you learn lessons, you play more rugby and get better.

"Now we're here. It's such a fantastic place to be in. France is such a rugby nation and we're involved in another World Cup, it's fantastic." 

New Zealand open their campaign against Kazakhstan on Saturday morning (NZ time) and face further pool matches against Ireland and the United States.

New Zealand comfortably accounted for Australia, Samoa and Canada in their build-up matches at home last month.

The tournament is being held in Paris with the pool stages played at Marcoussis on the outskirts of the city and Stade Jean Bouin hosting the semifinals and the August 18 final.

The International Rugby Board are trumpeting the growth of the tournament's appeal, claiming 306 hours of live TV broadcast will go into almost 140 countries.

Around 50 players from the blossoming world sevens circuit will be involved in the 15s tournament.

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