The Black Ferns were down, although certainly not out, at half time during the rugby World Cup final in Belfast.

They were not to be denied though, players like No. 8 Aroha Savage running the ball at England's fringes, retaining possession and pounding the 2014 champions until they could take no more.

It turned into a stunning victory, followed by emotional scenes and a haka, and created the most unlikely of stars in Tokoroa-born prop Toka Natua, who scored a hat-trick of tries.

Had England clung on, found the energy and tactics to use their first half domination as a foundation for victory, we might not be having this discussion. Critical analysis would have overtaken the moment.


A loss would have fitted a pattern, that New Zealand's rugby domination is slipping somewhat around and below the All Blacks and Super Rugby. The Olympic Sevens, for instance, did not go to plan.

But the women's World Cup tournament, which culminated in the 41-32 victory, not only further raised the profile of players like brilliant try-scoring wing Portia Woodman, but also the question of what happens next.

Because this is one of those rare moments when those who run a sport have a chance to strike, and make a difference.

And in this case it is imperative, a chance to enhance women's sport which needs to take every opportunity it gets.

The first outfit to take notice must be World Rugby, who were given a right telling off by the Americans over the overly-tight scheduling which left the players without proper rest.

And if New Zealand Rugby doesn't jump on the Black Ferns wagon, they will be accused of something similar.

Easier said than done, though. As hockey found after Olympic success, as did football after the amazing journey which led to the All Whites' appearance at the 1982 World Cup finals, stellar moments can only heighten the disappointment which follows.

But women's sport is on the up in non-traditional areas in this country, particularly football.

It's in rugby's own interests to advance the women's game.

But it won't just happen, and will take skilful and careful promotion. The people who can make it happen may well be outside the rugby current inner circle.

Because while the All Blacks prosper, other areas of administration bring into question the national body's acumen and promotional instincts.

New Zealand is a rugby watching country, and the women showed in this tournament that they can be great to watch. There is huge potential in sevens.

NZR has major resources.

It would be a huge shame if they didn't go all out at a pivotal moment, and see what can be achieved.