England trio retire from Tests

Date published: September 8 2014

Three of England's 2014 World Cup winners, Margaret Alphonsi, Joanna McGilchrist and Katherine Merchant, have decided to retire.

Three of England's World Cup winners, Margaret Alphonsi, Joanna McGilchrist and Katherine Merchant, have decided to retire from international rugby.

England flanker Alphonsi, second-row McGilchrist and wing Merchant, all of whom started England's 21-9 World Cup final victory over Canada, end their international careers with immediate effect.

Alphonsi, 30, one of world rugby's best known female players, made her international debut back in 2003 against the USA. Since then, she has gone on to play in three Rugby World Cups and one Rugby World Cup Sevens.

She shared in a record-breaking seven consecutive Six Nations Grand Slams titles. Along the way, the openside flanker amassed an impressive 74 caps and collected an MBE for Services to Rugby. Alphonsi will continue to play for Saracens in the Premiership this season.

“I've been fortunate enough to have had a great sporting career and feel it's the right time to retire now that we are World Champions,” said Alphonsi.

“There are so many great young players coming through, it's now time for someone else to experience what I have been fortunate enough to have achieved. I have so many special memories playing for England but the best one was winning the World Cup. I can now certainly retire with a smile on my face.”

Merchant said: “While it is very disappointing to have to retire, I am hugely proud to be part of our World Championship winning team and feel I have achieved what others never will. I very much plan to stay involved in rugby as it is a sport I love. It is a sport that has given me so much and now I have the opportunity to give something back.”

Lock McGilchrist, 31, has also been a stalwart for England, earning her 63rd and final cap against Canada in the Rugby World Cup final. She also featured in the 2010 Rugby World Cup in London as well as several Six Nations Grand Slam winning championships. The talented Wasps forward made her debut against Scotland in 2007 and scored six Test tries.

“It was a great honour to play for England,” said McGilchrist.

“I have many fond memories but the highlight is, of course, winning the World Cup. The direction in which the game is now going is really exciting, as are the opportunities it will provide.”