Rugby World Cup: New Zealand’s Ruby Tui challenges favorites England

Tui only made her Test 15 debut in June’s win over Australia
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New Zealand icon Ruby Tui says she is relishing England’s bid to wrestle the Rugby World Cup title from the Black Ferns over the next five weeks.

“I’m here for England to come and give us their best ‘sweet chariot’,” he told the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly.

“My mouth is buzzing at the chance to play the best.”

New Zealand begin their campaign against neighbors Australia on Saturday (07:15 BST) after England played Fiji in their first opener (04:45).

After winning gold in seven Olympics last year, Tui was called up to her country’s 15-man squad for the first time in May.

Her previous expertise in sevens means she missed out on New Zealand’s two heavy defeats from England last fall.

Those victories are part of a record 25-Test winning streak that stretches back to 2019 and has taken the Red Roses to three successive Six Nations, top of the world rankings and their status as tournament favourites.

Sam Whitelock and Ruby Tui
Sam Whitelock, left, is one of several All Blacks who have offered their help to the Black Ferns cause

New Zealand have made changes after the losses to England. Complaints from players led to a review in the culture surrounding the team. A change of coaching staff followed immediately after.

Former All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith was appointed as director of rugby in April, with men’s World Cup winners Sir Graham Henry, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu among those coming to the camp to offer advice.

Since their disappointing northern hemisphere tour, New Zealand have won their next six matches, culminating in a 95-12 demolition of Japan last month.

However, Tui says England remain the team to beat.

“England have definitely earned their number one ranking,” he added.

“They’re doing amazing things. I’m not going to argue with them being the benchmark right now.”

However, the winger added that the Black Ferns will be a different proposition under new management and with their own fans in the stands.

“I see the game differently now,” Tui said.

“Training is definitely different at the moment. We’ve had noticeable changes.”

“The darkness really shows you the light”

Ruby Tui
After winning Olympic Sevens gold, Tui and friend and teammate Portia Woodman (left) have their sights set on a successful World Cup defense

Combining honesty, humor and grace, Tui’s snappy interview with the BBC was an instant hit during an Olympics marred by Covid-19 restrictions.

However, she has written a book – Straight Up – which explains how she had to deal with hardship and grief at a young age.

“It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows,” he said.

“I wanted to share my childhood story because I think there are a lot of these issues – domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction. I felt trapped in a dark space at a young age.

“I could have bypassed it, but it helped shape me and make me the person I am today.

“If you don’t take every moment for how precious it really is, there’s a darkness, and if you get into that spiral, it’s closer than you think.

“Every day that the sun comes up, I get this free, amazing food and reach out to my five teammates that I really love.

“I’m fine and healthy and woke up today. It’s so special when you sit with that. Sometimes the darkness really shows you the light.”

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