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Former England rugby captain Sarah Hunter enjoying ‘not feeling beaten up’

By PA
An emotional Sarah Hunter of England embraces Marlie Packer ahead of the national anthem prior to her last England appearance during the TikTok Women's Six Nations match between England and Scotland at Kingston Park on March 25, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Former England Women’s rugby union captain Sarah Hunter has said she is enjoying no longer “feeling beaten up and battered” in her retirement, as she was made a CBE for services to the sport.

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The 38-year-old – England’s most capped player – said it is an “uncomfortable” feeling to be singled out for praise because rugby is the “ultimate team sport”.

Hunter, who won 138 caps and captained her side at the 2021 Rugby World Cup, was handed her CBE medal by the Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Monday.

Hunter – who made her England debut in 2007 and was named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2016 – announced her retirement from international rugby earlier this year.

She has started a new chapter of her career as a coach with the England team, something she discussed with William.

She told the PA news agency: “He asked me what I’m doing now since I stopped playing.

“England Rugby have got me back in coaching to try and help the next generation of players come through.”

Hunter and William also discussed the Princess of Wales’s role as a patron of England Rugby, and the time two England players “threw her up in the line-out” during a visit, she said.

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Asked about the secret to her long career, she said: “It’s probably just hanging on in there.

“As you get older it’s definitely around looking after your body. I was just driven to always be better every time I came off the field.

“I’ve been part of so many wonderful teams, it’s pretty hard to leave and say goodbye, but I guess everything has to end at some point.”

She continued: “It’s such an honour. I started playing rugby for the love of it and never did I ever imagine that I’d be honoured in this way.

“It’s kind of strange for me because rugby is the ultimate team sport, so being recognised for an individual award is fairly uncomfortable.

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“But it certainly ranks right up there in my achievements, I’m immensely proud.”

Asked if she was going to miss playing rugby, Hunter said: “Do you know what, I’m not. I actually enjoy not feeling beaten up and battered.

“I think that’s a really good sign that it was time to leave. I miss the camaraderie but I don’t miss being out there on the pitch.

“England Rugby have got me back in coaching to try and help the next generation of players come through.

“I’m starting on a new journey.”

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Eabn 8 hours ago
Open-minded Schmidt takes hands-on approach to Australia challenge

Who cares - boring is good when it comes to Media - they don’t bug you as much. While the focus is on the resurrection of the Wallabies, don’t forget the grass roots - Any opportunity you have to visit, train or promote Rugby down here in Melbourne / Regional is pretty much imperative given the current situation with the Rebels. I’m talking about us grass roots clubs and more so, clubs in the West of Melbourne who are being absolutely smashed by Rugby League and who have been contributing directly to the game down here long before the Rebels emerged and no doubt will do so well after they may be gone. All I have heard is all about the elite level, not the grass roots level so while the talk is about “ The Wallabies” and “Super Rugby Pacific” get back to the roots of Union and include us in your plans. So Phil Waugh and those leaders within RugbyAustralia, it’s on you to ensure the bottom feeders, so to speak, are included in all the talk and the funding if you want Union to regain ground and more respect within the Union and also the broader sporting fraternity. Given you have been in Melbourne a number off times over the last month, extending the courtesy of having a meet and greet with Victorian grass root clubs eluded you for some reason. Do we count or matter in RA’s and yours bigger picture?? Ean Drummond - Club Founder/President - Wyndham City Rhinos RUFC Inc. Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.

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