Source: Travis Prior

The Super Series 2019 – A Look back

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The organisers of this new-style tournament will have been well contented with proceedings.

For the first time ever the five top-ranked nations met in combat in one location. In the process some high-class rugby was put on show. There were surprise results to set beside the bankers; every side won at least a match and lost one. This may show narrowing standards at the top level; alternatively it may mean no head coach can hope to field sides capable of winning four top quality games over such a restricted period.

The Results

R1 ​​           Margin
USA 5 England 38​​ 33
NZ 35 Canada 20​​ 15
NZ 33 USA 0​​​ 33
France 19 Canada 36 17
France 25 New Zealand 16  9
Canada 17 England 19   2
England 20 France 18 2
Canada 18 USA 20​​  2
England 13 NZ 28​​ 15
France 53 USA 14​​ 39

They show three margins between 30-40 and four in single figures, which is excellent. Only once did a side fail to score (USA in Round 2); only once did a side score over 50 points (France in Round 5).

The final pecking order is much as expected: England failed in their mission to overtake New Zealand. France outperformed Canada to claim bronze; it’s to their credit that they topped the points-scored list, but they conceded considerably more than their nearest rivals. England posted fewer points than three of their four rivals – a stat that few can have predicted.

It was inevitable that Head Coaches would include new or less familiar names in their squads. This was entirely beneficial; many of them are highly likely to appear at the next World Cup in two years time. Players had to be flexible, able and willing to slot into different positions as the need arose. Sadly, some famous names like Safi N’Diaye, Romane Ménager and Mo Hunt had to take an early flight home because of injury. But then there were the untold legions who didn’t make the trip at all because they weren’t fit.

We must suspect that England suffered more than they were willing to admit from the absence of so many contracted players. Despite the depth of their resources they couldn’t produce the standards they expected without the input of one or two absent stars.

New Zealand will be delighted to have confirmed their top placing. They had a nasty shock against France, but reacted in typical fashion to see England off with something to spare. They still set the standards that other nations must strive for. It was important for women’s rugby in general that the French proved again that the Ferns could be beaten. But it was not nearly enough to knock them off their perch.

France presented their proverbial two faces: which France would turn up? They lost by a margin to Canada, then produced the result of the tournament in beating the Black Ferns by nine points. Perhaps it took more out of them than was healthy. Though they led the Red Roses for most of the Crunch, they succumbed in the end by two points. At least their series ended with a wonderful show of Gallic verve against the hosts.

Canada will be the most disappointed of all five nations. They came so close to winning on two occasions, only to go down by a couple of points. Their defeat of France had given hope of much better things. In the regrettable absence of Cindy Nelles they introduced another No. 8 of huge promise, Sophie De Goede.

The USA can draw great consolation from their performances, despite the final outcome. They had the pleasure of beating their neighbours to recover the North American crown. Their ambitions are long-term. There were plenty of moments when they showed glimpses of the levels they will achieve between now and the New Zealand WRWC.

And what of England? Frankly, they were a disappointment. The draw had seemed to favour them, but only in their first outing against the USA did they produce the fluent style that they had achieved so many times over the preceding two years. The other two victories turned into hard slogs, with courage and determination replacing the confident, accurate style their admirers expected.

Any Minuses?

The biggest crowd showed up for the final round at Torero Stadium in San Diego. No surprise there, but the lack of spectators at the Chula Vista Centre reduced the sense of spectacle the games deserved.

When World Rugby agreed to locate the tournament in Southern California, what importance did they attach to likely attendances? Players do respond to their audience: the bigger the crowd, the better they play.

There was a stark contrast between the facilities provided within the Centre and the tented-village appearance of the playing arena and its immediate surroundings.

Most tele-viewers will have been able to enjoy Rupert Cox’s expert commentaries. The alternative, provided by Florugby, offered two ladies who tended to talk across each other and offer a commentary better suited to the radio.

The Officials

It was heartening to see that all the referees and ARs were female, a feature that the Six Nations would do well to emulate. And there was Julianne Zussman, the recently retired Canadian star full-back, standing as an AR in the England-France match – excellent!

The top points scorers:

Kendra Cocksedge  45

Emily Scarratt         41

Final Table







New Zealand



































​​​World Rankings – the top 10 as of 15 July 2019

1. New Zealand          93.88
2. England 92.12
3. France​​​ 87.36
4. Canada​​ 85.56
5. USA​​​ 80.11
6. Italy​​​ 79.17
7. Australia​​ 78.68
8. Wales​​​ 75.29
9. Spain​​​ 73.18
10. Ireland​​​ 72.44

France climb above Canada – again