New Zealand cult hero Ruby Tui gave a compelling, raw and bilingual post-match interview before leading a sold out Eden Park in joyous song after winning the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night.
The Black Ferns snapped England’s record 30 game winning streak to claim a pulsating final 34-31 in front of 42,579.
Winger Tui – who overcame a harrowing upbringing to become an Olympic and now world champion – bathed in the glory of a world record crowd for women’s rugby.
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“How was it New Zealand? How was it?” Tui asked the Auckland throng.
“I’m just so proud to be a New Zealander right now. They said nobody cared about women’s rugby. Well, guess what? We out here. We’re going nowhere.
“Thank you for letting us be here, have our presence here.
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“They said we couldn’t do it, kids. They said we wouldn’t. We did it. And honestly, it took all of us. Anybody out there defended an England maul before?
“It isn’t easy in the last minute, baby! But we all did it together. New Zealand did it together. And I’m so proud to be here right now.”
Tui then broke into song, leading the crowd on a rendition of popular Maori folk song Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi.
It’s a call-and-response classic and it has never sounded as good as it did with the Black Ferns star leading the way.
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Last weekend, after the Black Ferns’ nail-biting win over France, Tui had looked forward to the final by saying: “Let’s do something great together, New Zealand.”
For the few hours before, during and after their equally nerve-racking win over England, the team and their fans did exactly that.
At the end of 2021, an underdone Black Ferns side hit rock bottom with heavy losses to England and France on their end-of-year tour – results which led to a critical review of their team environment and a change of coach just over six months ago.
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When the final whistle blew on Saturday at the end of their 12th win in a row under new boss Wayne Smith, there was nothing but joy and hugs all around.
It was the largest crowd to have ever attended a women’s sports event in New Zealand, beating the mark of 34,235 set on the opening night of this World Cup five weeks ago.
After those come three other matchdays from this tournament.
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The old record holder, the final of the 2008 under-17 football World Cup, now sits at No 6.
Women’s rugby has just had the biggest five weeks it has ever had, with many of the most memorable moments coming at a ground in Eden Park where women have very rarely had top billing.
It’s most synonymous with the All Blacks, who haven’t lost there for 48 matches stretching back to 1994.
But the Black Ferns have now won all 11 of their matches there since their first in 2003 – including three at this World Cup where, for the first time, they’ve been the headline act.
They’ve come from 17-0 down to beat Australia 41-17 on the opening night.
They’ve watched France miss an 80th minute penalty that would have ended their tournament a week ago.
And they’ve pulled off a lineout steal after the hooter to deny England the chance to use their famed maul to win a match they played with 14 for more than hour.
Eden Park is New Zealand’s most treasured sports venue – and Saturday was its most magical occasion yet.
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