Skip to content

Rugby World Cup: Will Greenwood backs England's Red Roses to bounce back from final heartbreak

England's Test-record 30-match winning run over after the Red Roses were beaten 34-31 by New Zealand in the Women's Rugby World Cup final; Lydia Thompson sent off during the first half of their narrow defeat in Auckland

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

2003 Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood says the Rugby World Cup 'has transcended an 80-minute game' and believes the Red Roses will sell Twickenham out in the next few years.

Will Greenwood says the Red Roses have provided a huge boost to women's rugby and has backed them to bounce back from their heartbreaking World Cup final defeat to New Zealand.

England's Test-record 30-match winning run ended with a narrow 34-31 loss against the Black Ferns in front of a sell-out crowd at Eden Park, the first defeat for Simon Middleton's side since July 2019.

The Red Roses played more than an hour with just 14 players after Lydia Thompson was sent off for a reckless tackle in the 18th minute, although they led for long periods during a thrilling final in Auckland.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Following her side's Rugby World Cup final defeat, Red Roses captain Sarah Hunter says that England 'left everything out on that field'.

Ayesha Leti-I'iga finished off a fine move late in the game for what proved to be the match-winning try for New Zealand.

But Greenwood - who won the World Cup with England's men in 2003 - insists Simon Middleton's side can be proud of their performance.

"I think that the Red Roses have been standout ambassadors for any team sport in this country for a very long time," Greenwood told Sky Sports News. "We're just beginning to understand how many people this will give access to.

"Hopefully it will be another stepping stone for the women's game for so many people, who have fought so hard for recognition for so long.

Also See:

"I know it ends in heartache here and hopefully they'll have time to reflect on their unbelievable performance, but in the meantime let's look at the boost it has given to the women's game. In three years' time, they will sell Twickenham out for a World Cup final, which is unbelievable to think."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Former England international Vicky Fleetwood says that England would have 'absolutely' won the Rugby World Cup final if Lydia Thompson had not been shown a red card.

England had a chance to snatch victory with the final play of the match after the hooter had sounded, with the Red Roses unsuccessfully attempting to find a last-gasp try from a line-out rather than taking the penalty that could have taken the contest to extra time.

"I went 'oh, they've got to take a three', but actually then I'm thinking 'actually, do you know what, they're down to 14, playing 15, and they've scored four tries from the driving maul,' Greenwood explained.

"I actually think it was the right call, especially if you think about having to play New Zealand for another 20 minutes still with a player down. It was just a brilliant piece of set-piece defence."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Former England international Vicky Fleetwood says that England's players will be heart-broken by their defeat in the World Cup final.

What next for England?

Defeat means the Red Roses have now lost all five World Cup finals against New Zealand, although Greenwood expects the two-time world champions to come back stronger when the tournament heads to England in 2025.

"In rugby, to be defined as a great team, you have to win the World Cup," Greenwood added. "This England team have been sensational, but they will have regrets and as a sports person you need to look back and say you have no regrets.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

1994 Rugby World Cup winner Giselle Mather says the Red Roses 'have given everything for the cause' during their Rugby World Cup final defeat.

"The reality is the 1999 World Cup quarter-final still plays in my head, as does the Lions Test in 2001 where I hurt myself. Maybe I'm just psychologically weak, but I think a lot of people do talk about the ones that got away.

"If you put yourself in a position to win and you're favourites to win and you don't do it, it's an itch you can't ever really scratch. I hope they'll be able to find a way to process this and they only have three years to wait, because of what happened with Covid, so many of these girls will get another crack at this.

"The next World Cup is in England, they will go into it as heavy favourites and hopefully - having played New Zealand six times in World Cups and lost all six times - they'll find a way eventually to break that very unfortunate record."

Around Sky