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5 of the Best Female Rugby Players of All Time

Rugby has long been considered a sport dominated by men. The intense physicality and toughness required often lead to the belief that players need to possess traditionally “masculine” traits. Many people still hold onto the idea that rugby is a man’s game, and women who play it must somehow be less feminine or must adopt masculine characteristics to succeed.

Despite these outdated prejudices, numerous women have risen to prominence in rugby, proving that talent and passion know no gender. These athletes have shattered stereotypes, showcasing their skills and determination on the field. Rugby is still largely considered a male-dominated sport, but the landscape is changing rapidly.

Women’s rugby has grown significantly in recent years, with increasing participation, professionalisation, and media coverage. Major tournaments like the Women’s Rugby World Cup and the inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympics have elevated the profile of female players and attracted new fans to the sport.

Here are five of the best female rugby players of all time in rugby union.

Portia Woodman

Portia Woodman, hailing from New Zealand, is a powerhouse in the rugby world. Portia was born into a family with a rich sporting heritage, and her rugby journey began with her netball involvement before switching to rugby sevens and rugby union.

Woodman’s speed and agility make her one of the most formidable wingers in the game. She has an uncanny ability to outrun defenders and create scoring opportunities. Her performance in the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she helped New Zealand win a silver medal, showcased her exceptional talent.

Fans and experts alike admire Woodman for her relentless drive and continuous improvement. Many are even looking forward to placing a bet on the Olympics with her team in mind. They expect her to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible in women’s rugby, contributing significantly to her team’s success and inspiring future generations of players.

Emily Scarratt

Emily Scarratt has made a name for herself as one of the most versatile and skilled players in women’s rugby. Growing up in a small village in England, Scarratt was passionate about various sports, but rugby eventually became her main focus.

Her prowess is evident in her ability to play multiple positions, from center to fullback, easily. Scarratt’s kicking skills, strategic thinking, and leadership on the field have been crucial to England’s victories, including their triumph in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Scarratt’s fans appreciate her consistency and strategic mind. They expect her to continue being a key player for England, providing valuable experience and mentorship to younger teammates while aiming for more championships.

Sarah Hunter

Sarah Hunter, a standout from England, has earned her place among the rugby elite through hard work and dedication. Coming from a sports-loving family, Hunter’s early exposure to rugby set the stage for her future success.

Hunter’s strength lies in her leadership and resilience. Her ability to read the game and make crucial tackles as a back-row forward made her indispensable to her team. She captained England to numerous successes, including multiple Six Nations titles and a Rugby World Cup victory 2014.

Hunter is admired for her unwavering commitment and inspiring leadership. Although she retired from playing in 2023, she has transitioned into coaching and positively influenced the sport. Her efforts have led to her team’s success and significantly contributed to women’s rugby’s overall growth and recognition.

Jessy Trémoulière

Jessy Trémoulière, a dynamic player from France, has become a central figure in her national team. Growing up in a rural area, her journey to rugby stardom is a testament to her determination and passion for the sport.

Trémoulière’s versatility as a fullback and fly-half made her a significant asset. Her kicking accuracy, speed, and tactical awareness earned her numerous accolades, including the title of World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2018. She played a key role in France’s victories in the Six Nations Grand Slams in 2014 and 2018 and contributed to the bronze medal wins in the Rugby World Cup.

Trémoulière retired from international rugby in 2023 to focus on her family farm. Despite her retirement from the national team, she continues to inspire through her involvement in rugby at the club level and her contributions to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Players’ Committee. Her game-changing abilities and consistent performances have set new standards in women’s rugby and will continue to influence the sport for years.

Kendra Cocksedge

Kendra Cocksedge, a remarkable player from New Zealand, has solidified her reputation as one of the best scrum-halves in the world. Raised in a rugby-loving community, Cocksedge’s early involvement in the sport paved the way for her illustrious career.

Cocksedge’s quick decision-making, precise passing, and tactical intelligence set her apart. Her contributions were pivotal in New Zealand’s Women’s Rugby World Cup victories in 2010 and 2017.

Cocksedge broke new ground as the first woman to receive the Kelvin Tremain Memorial Trophy for Player of the Year in 2018 and was honored as the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2015. She retired following the 2022 World Cup, concluding her career as the most-capped Black Fern and the leading point scorer for the team.

Final Thoughts

Every day, more women join rugby teams, defying the status quo and proving their capabilities. Rugby has come a long way from introducing women’s championships, and the five women on this list are the best of the best in the field around the world. We can all support and promote women’s rugby by attending matches, sharing their stories, or encouraging young girls to take the sport.

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