New Zealand’s Black Ferns were punished for too many mistakes, beaten for the first time in a women’s Rugby World Cup since 1991 as Ireland hung on for an upset 17-14 win in Paris.
Kiwi coach Brian Evans says the result is disappointing, but Ireland deserved the win.
“They outmuscled us, they forced errors, but huge congratulations to them for that,” he said afterwards.
“Our mistake level was so high, we couldn’t execute our game-plan and our ball retention was bad, but we must stay positive.
“I have a lot of respect for the Irish team and coaches. They are top people.”
The Black Ferns have won the last four tournaments and had not lost a World Cup game since their semi-final defeat to the United States 23 years ago.
They began reasonably well and led 8-0 courtesy of a Kelly Brazier penalty and Selica Winiata’s try but Heather O’Brien’s score, which was then converted by Niamh Briggs, cut the deficit to just one point at the break.
Brazier’s second penalty extended New Zealand’s lead but when Alison Miller went over with Briggs again adding the extras, it was the Irish who led by three.
Another Brazier penalty levelled the scores but Briggs slotted one of her own with 10 minutes remaining and Ireland held on for a famous victory.
The result moved Ireland to the top of Pool B ahead of their final group match against Kazakhstan on Saturday, with New Zealand up against the United States on the same day.
Even if the Black Ferns beat the US, their progression into the semi-finals depends on results in the final round of pool matches.
The pool winner from each group goes through to the play-offs, with the fourth spot taken by the second-placed team with the most competition points.