Former England international Vicky Fleetwood believes England would have lifted the Rugby World Cup in Eden Park with ease if it weren’t for a first-half red card after just 18 minutes of the first half.
Lydia Thompson was shown a red card after barrelling into Portia Woodman, a hit that also brought the New Zealander’s final to a premature end. The Black Ferns great was taken off the pitch on the a medical cart, an ignominious end to her tournament.
The tackle was referred to TMO Ben Whitehouse by referee Hollie Davidson, before Davidson could be heard saying: “For me it’s clear head on head, she’s coming across at speed, it’s a reckless action, so it’s a red card for me.”
“Clear head on head, it’s a reckless action… So it’s a red card” ?
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) November 12, 2022
England, who had been 14-0 up, were then forced onto the backfoot, with the Black Ferns storming back into the game in the second-half to lead going into the final moments of the game.
When asked by Sky Sports what she thought of the impact the red card had on the game, former Red Rose Fleetwood said that England would ‘absolutely’ have won if not the for the dismissal.
“I’m pretty flat. Obviously, my friends are out there. They’re the ones taking the field. For them to go 60 minutes when down to 14, an incredible effort, it was phenomenal.”
“Absolutely,” said Fleetwood when asked would the Red Roses have won with 15 players. “To be able to go toe to toe for sixty minutes with a player down… if you’ve got that extra, yeah, definitely, I think England would have won by plenty.
“Going into this game they showed what a force they were to reckon with 30 games on the bounce that they’ve won.
“It was their’s to lose and unfortunately losing Lydia so early on, that wasn’t meant to be England’s day today.”
Fleetwood also noted touched on the lost lineout in the final play of the game, observing that England would have won that lineout 99 times out of 100.
“To lose the way they did. Ninety-nine out of 100 times, England are scoring that in that last play. To lose that lineout in the last few seconds is going to be heartbreaking for them.”