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England legend Sarah Hunter makes retirement call

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/RFU Collection via Getty Images

Sarah Hunter will bring her distinguished playing career to a close in her hometown of Newcastle when England face Scotland in the women’s Six Nations on Saturday. England’s most capped player, with 140 appearances, has spent the last 16 years as an international and has chosen the tournament opener at Kingston Park as her final match in order to finish on her own terms.


The 37-year-old back row, born in North Shields, was part of the Red Roses squad that won the 2014 World Cup and was also captain when the national team reached the finals in 2017 and 2022. In addition, England’s skipper since 2015 has won 10 Six Nations titles including nine Grand Slams.

“Not many athletes get to choose how and when they call time on their playing careers,” Hunter said. “I’m very fortunate that I have the opportunity to finish on my own terms. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than in my hometown where my rugby journey started.

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“I get to finish in a place that has a special place in my heart in front of my friends, family and Red Roses supporters and I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do that.

“To play there in a white shirt – which is something I’ve been immensely proud of and I feel very honoured to have represented my country so many times – feels like an ending I couldn’t look past and I feel very fortunate that I get to do this.”


Hunter, the 2016 women’s world player of the year, will continue to coach Loughborough Lightning until the end of the season. “Sarah is the most honest and professional player I have ever known let alone worked with,” England coach Simon Middleton said. “Throughout her career, her commitment to being the best version of herself at every opportunity has shone through in her attention to detail and faultless preparation.

“I’d say she has maximised every ounce of her potential. If you reflect on your career and you can say that then it puts you in a very special category. She is an absolute inspiration for everybody who has played with her or worked with her and is the ultimate example to every young person who would want to play.


“The word legend is overused but it’s most definitely not in her case. She is and will always be a true England legend.”


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