Paris - Two missed conversions by Sandrine Agricole cost hosts France a place
in the women's Rugby World Cup final as Canada beat Les Bleues 18-16 in
a thrilling match and will contest their first final against England on
Agricole's pre-kick preparations are reminiscent of
former England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson's, but she missed two in the
space of 10 minutes as the match drew to a dramatic close.
to apologise," the distraught fullback told reporters. "I'm really
sorry. I'm disappointed but that's the game. I have to accept it."
earlier crushed Ireland - the tournament's giant- killers who beat
four-times champions New Zealand in the group stages - 40-7 to reach
their sixth final.
In the France v Canada game a controversial
sin-binning for French winger Caroline Ladagnous over a dangerous tackle
and the departure of Canadian scrumhalf Stephanie Bernier with a knee
injury attested to the intensity of a first half that ended 6-6 after
two penalties apiece.
The game exploded into life in the second
half when Canada fullback Alarie Elissa, drafted in as replacement
scrumhalf, sold a subtle but outrageous dummy from the base of a ruck.
35-metre unopposed dash for the line resulted in the first try of the
match. Winger Magali Harvey crossed soon after and France were on the
Lifted by strains of the Marseillaise from a near
capacity crowd at the 17 835 Stade Jean Bouin in west Paris, Les Bleues
eventually found some form, winning more ball at the breakdown and
mounting waves of attacks.
Their reward was a late pushover try
from a lineout, but Agricole's conversion went wide, and the hosts were
left still more than one score adrift at 18-11.
Touts before the
match were attempting to sell five euro tickets at 40 euros each and
anyone who paid that price got their money's worth.
camped in Canada's half with five minutes to go, the second yellow card
of the match was shown to the Maple Leafs' Mary Jane Kirby, apparently
for a scrummaging offence. From the resulting penalty, France were
awarded a second pushover try, but Agricole hooked the conversion wide
Earlier at the same venue, England centre Emily Scarratt
inspired her team to victory and a place in the final for the sixth
A standout place-kicking and try-making performance from
Scarratt gave England the decisive edge, even though it was Ireland who
drew first blood through a try by Tania Rosser.
England won the competition 20 years ago and came agonisingly close to beating eventual champions New Zealand in the 2010 final.
Ireland will play France in the third-place playoff.