England won the first WXV title with a 33-12 victory over New Zealand in Auckland. A year after a heartbreaking defeat against the same team in the World Cup final, the Red Roses achieved a big victory in the new international team competition.
England got off to a perfect start with Alex Matthews scoring the first of five tries in the fourth minute, and the lead was quickly increased to a second for Lark Atkin-Davies. They crossed for a third in the 23rd minute, a simple finish from Sarah Bern, before Ellie Kildunne was denied when replays showed her foot in touch before she went over.
New Zealand came into play two minutes before half-time, with Kennedy Simon scoring her first try and a second in the 49th minute from Katelyn Vahaakolo fueling hopes of a comeback for the hosts who took the score to 19 -12.
But Morwenna Talling ended a period of English pressure with a fourth try and Zoe Aldcroft made sure of victory before the unlucky Kildunne scored another effort.
After the match, England captain Marlie Packer was named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year 2023 for her all-round performances, including 11 tries, a world record. Seven England players were named in the dream team, with Packer joined by Atkin-Davies, Bern, Aldcroft, Matthews, Abby Dow and Kildunne.