2024 Women's Rugby: Top National teams to watch this year

Emily Scarrett in action for England
Emily Scarrett in action for England

Over the past decade, we've witnessed an incredible surge in the popularity and competitiveness of women's rugby.

As an increasing number of countries pour resources into developing their national teams, the competition for the top spots has become fiercer than ever.

The current year promises to be an exciting one, with a host of thrilling matchups on the horizon and a wealth of emerging talent ready to take the field. So, without further ado, let's turn our attention to some of the top women's rugby nations that are expected to make waves in 2024.

New Zealand: Defending Back-To-Back World Champions

The New Zealand Black Ferns, reigning champions of women's rugby, have solidified their dominance by clinching the World Cup title in 2022, defeating England in a nail-biting final. This victory not only highlighted their exceptional skills but also increased their global fanbase, many of whom now eagerly stream rugby matches live to catch the Black Ferns in action.

Their gameplay, marked by precision passing, strategic kicking, and relentless determination, sets them apart on the international stage. The team's strength also lies in their leadership. Veteran players like Kendra Cocksedge and Portia Woodman spearhead a squad brimming with talent. Their experience and guidance are invaluable in shaping the team's dynamics.

Adding to this potent mix is the infusion of young blood like 20-year-old Sylvia Brunt. This blend of youth and experience makes the Black Ferns a continually evolving team, keeping their opponents on their toes. To catch a preview of women's rugby in 2024, here's a link to a video you can watch:

England: Seeking Redemption

After enduring the sting of defeat in three consecutive World Cup finals against New Zealand, the England women's rugby team, known as the Red Roses, is hungry for victory.  Under the seasoned leadership of veteran Emily Scarratt, England showcases a brand of rugby that is both powerful and physical.

The team's forwards, including the likes of Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall, bring brute strength to the front line. Meanwhile, speedsters such as Abby Dow add agility on the wing, skilfully finishing off tries.

In the 2022 World Cup, England gave New Zealand a run for their money, taking the game right down to the wire. Since then, the team has shown significant growth. As the new season unfolds, keep an eye out for England. They're poised to challenge the Black Ferns and make their mark on the rugby world.

Canada: An Emerging Threat

While the Canadian Maple Leafs may not yet be on par with powerhouses like New Zealand and England, they have been steadily climbing the ranks in women's rugby. Their team, boasting athletic forwards and agile backs, has shown they can hold their own against the world's best.

Leading the charge is Captain Sophie de Goede, a dynamic presence in the back row. She carries a rich legacy, being the daughter of two former Canadian internationals, and her leadership is a driving force for the team.

The future looks promising for Canadian women's rugby. With increased funding and a move towards professionalization, the Maple Leafs are poised to break into the upper echelons of the sport. Keep an eye on this team – they're an emerging threat that could soon disrupt the status quo.

France: Building Momentum

Les Bleues, the French women's rugby team, is beginning to channel their success at the youth level into significant progress in the senior team. The team is led by seasoned veterans like Safi N'Diaye and Caroline Drouin, whose leadership is instrumental in guiding the team.

The squad also boasts of exciting young talents like Joanna Grisez, who was voted the best young player of 2022. Her presence underscores the potential that France holds for the future.

Having qualified for the World Cup quarterfinals in 2022, France has set their sights higher for 2024. This team, on an upward trajectory, is one to watch out for. Their growing momentum and potential make them a team that cannot be easily dismissed in the world of women's rugby.

Australia: Pursuing Consistency

The Australian Wallaroos has always been home to top-notch players in the rugby world, but the quest for consistent success has proven to be a challenge. The team's veterans, such as Liz Patu and Ash Hewson, bring a level of physicality upfront that is hard to match.

The team's dynamism is further fuelled by emerging stars like Lori Cramer, who have brought a spark to the backline. Their presence signals a promising future for Australian rugby.

With a focus on improved depth and conditioning, Australia is poised for a breakthrough this season. Their potential for growth and improvement makes them a team that cannot be overlooked in any matchup. Their pursuit of consistency could very well lead to a surprise upset in the coming season.

The Road To The 2025 World Cup

This year's matches will be critical in teams' preparation for the 2025 World Cup in England. The top nations will fine-tune their combinations and strategies through intense competition. For developing squads like Canada and France, every match offers a chance to close the gap.

With multiple exciting teams in women's rugby, the upcoming season promises to thrill. Each game brings elite athleticism, tactical battles, and hard-hitting physicality. Strapping in for this intense ride, we'll see unforgettable performances across the globe. The countdown to the 2025 World Cup starts now.