Rugby

‘I don’t know if she’ll remember much’: Black Ferns trainer on Portia Woodman’s condition after head bump

Black Ferns manager Wayne Smith doesn’t think Portia Woodman remembers much from the World Cup final, which New Zealand won 34-31 at Eden Park on Saturday night.

“She wasn’t great,” Smith said in his postgame news conference.

“She did not pass the HIA. I don’t know if she will remember much of the game.

“She was also playing very well, so it was disappointing. She will recover, but she is not 100% right now.”

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There were two nasty clashes of heads in what was a thrilling final, but the way they were ruled was controversial.

England manager Simon Middleton was cautious in his words about his thoughts on the red card shown to his winger Lydia Thompson and the yellow handed out to Black Fern Kennedy Simon.

How much of an impact the two cards shown by referee Hollie Davidson in New Zealand’s 34-31 victory will never be known, but it was always going to be difficult for England to play for 62 minutes after Thompson was red for her header with Portia. Woodman, who also took the New Zealand winger out of the rest of the game.

Portia Woodman was carried off the field in a medical taxi after appearing knocked out by a head butt.

RICKY WILSON/Things

Portia Woodman was carried off the field in a medical taxi after appearing knocked out by a head butt.

At the post-match press conference, Middleton was asked if he agreed with the decision to red card Thompson.

“There have been some incidents like that, which have not been marked with a red card. It is what it is, right? he said.

In the 65th minute there was another clash of heads, from Kennedy Simon to England winger Abby Dow.

Although the incidents were similar, Simon only saw a yellow card.

Middleton was asked what he thought of this decision and replied, “There’s really no comment on that.”

If ever there was a time when ‘no comment’ meant ‘disagree’, this was it.

But it was a difficult night for the England manager, who had to adapt his team’s game plan to be less than one player for more than an hour.

“It’s a tough question,” he said.

Medics quickly ran over to Portia Woodman as she lay on the ground.

RICKY WILSON/Things

Medics quickly ran over to Portia Woodman as she lay on the ground.

“Are you looking to have a full complement of backs on, or do you need to have a complete complement of forwards on the field?

“We saw how we could adapt in attack and defense and with some of the players that we have, there are a lot of things we can do.

“We adapted as we went along. The game was challenging enough as it was against the Black Ferns, but there was a few more things thrown in there.

“But it’s a testament to the players how adaptable they are, how determined they are that it’s all come down to the siren and the game is still in balance.”

England's Abby Dow is tackled by Kennedy Simon 65 minutes into the World Cup Final.

Andres Cornaga/Photosport

England’s Abby Dow is tackled by Kennedy Simon 65 minutes into the World Cup Final.

Middleton added that Thompson was distraught over receiving a red card in a World Cup final and defended her character.

“She’s pretty upset, as you can imagine,” he said.

“Lydia is one of the best professionals and one of the most beautiful people you will ever meet.

“So she’s devastated and she’s just as devastated by what happened to Portia as she is by what happened to her, because they’ve had some incredible matchups over the last five, six, 10 years.

“That was taken out of the game and none of them would have wanted that.

“It’s unfortunate, there was no malice in it.

“It’s a clash of heads and it took two of the best players in the world out of the game. But yeah, she’s pretty devastated about it.

“But she’s going to be fine, we’ll get through her tonight, like we’ll avoid all the other players who are pointing fingers at themselves.”

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