The best female rugby players in the world

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February 13, 2024
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The best female rugby players in the world

Women's rugby has produced some incredible talent over the years and with the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 well underway in Ireland this summer, we thought it would be fitting to celebrate some of the best female rugby players in the world. 

Rochelle Clark MBE  

Rochelle Clark is an English female rugby union player. Currently playing in her third World Cup tournament, Clark earned her 125th cap in the opening fixture against Spain in Dublin at this year's World Cup.

The legendary prop also represented England at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup and 2014 World Cup in France.

She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to rugby.

Portia Woodman

After starting her sporting career as a netball player, Woodman switched to rugby union in 2012. She made her debut for the Black Ferns in 2013 against England and from then, she made herself a regular in the international side.

She was included in the 2013 New Zealand squad when they won the World Cup Sevens in Russia.

Margaret Alphonsi MBE

Margaret ‘Maggie’ Alphonsi is arguably one of the most well-known names in women’s rugby and even in women’s sport.

With her background being in athletics, Alphonsi was an exciting young talent predicted to represent Great Britain in the Olympics for discus throwing. However, she decided to take her career onto the rugby pitch.

From there, she became a rising star, playing as a flanker for Saracens and representing her country. In 2010, she was awarded Times Sportswoman of the Year.

During her career, she's played in three World Cups and one Rugby World Cup Sevens.

She hung up her rugby boots after England won the 2014 World Cup in France and now continues to coach and promote female participation and coaching in sport.

She’s also an ambassador of several not-for-profits and charities, all with the hope to give the youth of Africa hope for the future through rugby.

Ana Poghosian

Rugby may be less developed in Georgia, but Ana Poghosian is one of the biggest names to surface in the sport.

The Georgian Women’s National Sevens Team (also known as Georgia Lady 7s) has seen success in Europe though, with Poghosian, captain of the Women’s National Sevens Team, named as the ‘Best female rugby player,’ for two consecutive years.

She continues to champion rugby and is seen as a true inspiration and role model for girls and women in sport.

Cheryl Soon

Cheryl Soon is an Australian former female rugby union player. A well-known name in the women’s game, Soon was included in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup squad that saw them finish in third place.

She captained the Wallaroos to the inaugural women’s 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens, in which they triumphed and eventually won the world cup.

Soon joined IRB’s Rugby Committee in 2012 to champion the playing, coaching and refereeing in women’s rugby.

Magali Harvey

Magali Harvey is a Canadian rugby union player. Named International Rugby Board (IRB) Women’s player of the year in 2014, she became the first Canadian to ever receive the award.

She also won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games as a member of the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team.

Natasha Hunt

The England rugby union player started her career aged just 17, with her England debut following shortly after. After triumphing as an England U20 member, she earned her 29th cap for her country in the 2014 World Cup final against Canada.

The popular scrum half has also represented Team GB in rugby sevens and on her return from Rio in 2016, she went on to achieve her 30th cap during a 10-5 win over France at Twickenham in November.

When she’s not called up for international duties, Hunt is a P.E teacher. She’s currently representing her country during the World Cup over in Ireland and is set to help her team on the road to victory.

Emily Scarratt

Emily Scarratt is a Centre with 69 caps under her belt. She’s most famous for securing England’s 2014 World Cup triumph with a try six minutes from the final whistle, leading her team to a 21-9 victory against Canada in the final.

A vital member of the team, Scarratt first graced the rugby pitch in 2008 and scored 12 tries in 12 games in the early stages of her career.

Since then, she’s won RPA England Women’s Players’ Player of the year in 2013 as well as being nominated for the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in 2014.

In March this year, she became England’s fifth all-time highest try-scorer. Her 51 points in the Six Nations were the most in this year’s tournament, just falling short of Katy McLean’s record.

Kendra Cocksedge

Kendra is a talented rugby union player from New Zealand. She made her debut for Canterbury Rugby Union aged just 19 and she was set to have a bright future ahead.

In 2010, she was part of the Women’s Rugby World cup winning squad and became one of New Zealand’s most desired players.

In 2014, Cocksedge started all nine matches for the Canterbury Women’s Provincial Team, scoring an impressive 101 points. In the same year, she was also named in the 2014 World Cup Squad.

She’s also a talented Rugby Sevens player and helped lead her team to a victory in the Women’s Sevens World Series in 2013.

In 2015, she was the top point-scorer in the Women’s Rugby Super Series. She was named New Zealand’s Women’s Player of the Year in 2015.

Katherine Merchant

Katherine Merchant is one of the most well-known rugby players in the world. She represented England at the 2010 Women’s World Cup and was named in the winning squad for the 2014 World Cup as well.

Earning a total of 58 caps for her country, she has scored a total of 44 tries for England. She’s excelled in both 15s and sevens over the years.

After sustaining a number of injuries over her otherwise successful career, she decided to call it a day after England’s World Cup victory over Canada in 2014.

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