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'You made my dreams come true': Black Ferns star farewells rugby

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Black Ferns great Kendra Cocksedge has penned an emotional tribute to rugby, as she officially farewelled the sport after playing her final match in last weekend’s World Cup final.

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Cocksedge was truly a pioneer for the women’s game, as she achieved revolutionary success both domestically with Canterbury and on the international stage in the black jersey.

The star halfback made her international debut at just 19-years-of-age in 2007, and went on to become the most capped Black Ferns player of all time.

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Cocksedge made history in 2018 when she became the first Black Fern to be crowned the best rugby player in New Zealand for that year – winning the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Award at the New Zealand Rugby awards.

After a ground-breaking career which challenged and changed what was thought to be possible in the women’s game, the 34-year-old announced in September that she’d retire after the World Cup.

The Black Ferns were able to unite a nation throughout their incredible run at their home World Cup, which included sold-out Test matches at New Zealand’s home of rugby Eden Park.

More than 42,000 packed the stands at the Auckland venue to watch the Black Ferns record a hard-fought 34-31 upset win over England on Saturday, as Cocksedge bowed out of the sport as a three-time world champion.

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Cocksedge shared a powerful tribute to the sport on her Instagram this morning, where she thanked rugby for making “my dreams come true.”

“Dear Rugby, I can’t thank you enough for what you have given me over the last 30 years,” Cocksedge wrote on Instagram.

“When I first met you I didn’t know what to do; I ran the wrong way, passed the ball forward, got my hair pulled, got told I couldn’t play with boys. But I persevered with you and I am so grateful for that.

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“You have taught me many life lessons, such as how to lead, how to work in a team, how to deal with pressure. You’ve taught me about passion, commitment and you have given me confidence on and off the field.

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“You have given me purpose for 30 out of my 34 years. The list could go on. However, the most valuable thing you have given me is the friendships and connections with people all around the world.

“I have met some incredible people who now will be life long friends. I am going to feel lost without you, but in one way or another I know you’re still going (to) play a role in my life over the years ahead.

“Rugby you made my dreams come true like never before and I hope that any young girl and boy can live the dream that you gave me. Thank you.”

Cocksedge became just the fourth women’s player in the history of New Zealand rugby to play 100 domestic matches – and it couldn’t have ended any better.

Canterbury won the Farah Palmer Cup after they beat Auckland 41-14 in the final in Christchurch earlier this year.

The veteran of New Zealand rugby played her 100th and final cap in that decider, and scored a try as well.

After Cocksedge had announced her retirement in September, New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson spoke about the “legend of the game.”

“Kendra is a legend of the game. Her success is without peer, and it is testament to her work ethic to have such an enduring career in the black jersey,” Robinson said.

“She is widely respect on and off the field as a fierce competitor and genuine leader in the women’s game.

“While we are sad to see the end of her playing career, we know she is not lost to the game, and she will continue to have a positive impact in rugby for years to come.”

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