Two missed conversions by Sandrine Agricole cost hosts France a place in the women’s rugby World Cup final as Canada beat Les Bleues 18-16 in a thrilling match and will contest their first final against England on Sunday.
Agricole’s pre-kick preparations are reminiscent of former England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson’s, but she missed two in the space of 10 minutes as the match drew to a dramatic close.
“I have to apologise,” the distraught fullback told reporters. “I’m really sorry. I’m disappointed but that’s the game. I have to accept it.”
England earlier crushed Ireland – the tournament’s giant-killers who beat four-time champions New Zealand in the group stages – 40-7 to reach their sixth final.
England centre Emily Scarratt inspired her team to victory and a place in the final for the sixth time.
A standout place-kicking and try-making performance from Scarratt gave England the decisive edge, even though it was Ireland who drew first blood through a try by Tania Rosser.
England won the competition 20 years ago and came agonisingly close to beating eventual champions New Zealand in the 2010 final.
Ireland will play France in the third-place playoff.