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Red Roses prop Vickii Cornborough calls time on international career

By Martyn Thomas
PAU, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 02: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Vickii Cornborough of England waits with her team in the tunnel ahead of the Women's Six Nations Tournament match between France and England on February 02, 2020 in Pau, France. (Photo by Naomi Baker - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England prop Vickii Cornborough has announced her international retirement following a 75-cap Red Roses career in which she started two Rugby World Cup finals.

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Cornborough, 34, became a mother for the first time last year and has not featured for the Red Roses since the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 final defeat to New Zealand in Auckland in November 2022.

Having represented England at under-19 and under-20 level, she made her Test debut as a second-half replacement for Rocky Clark against Wales in Swansea in February 2015.

That match ended in a 13-0 defeat for the Red Roses, but it was a rare loss for Cornborough in a white jersey. The Harlequins prop won six Women’s Six Nations titles, five Grand Slams and was twice named Player of the Match at Twickenham.

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Both of her Rugby World Cup final appearances, in 2017 and 2022, ended in heartbreak however as the Black Ferns twice edged England to the game’s biggest prize.

Off the pitch, Cornborough served as vice-chair of the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) and played a pivotal role in the creation of the RFU’s maternity policy. She has since benefitted from what she has described as a “game changing moment”.

“It has been an emotionally tough decision to confirm my international retirement but it’s one that is right for my family and I, personally and professionally,” Cornborough said.

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“I’m proud to have played for my country 75 times, won Six Nations titles and played at two Rugby World Cups. It’s been a dream. I have given everything to the Red Roses shirt and being the best player I can be.

“Becoming a mother has been one of the best things to ever happen in my life. It’s also an incredibly difficult and demanding job. I’ll be forever grateful for the support England and Harlequins have given me over the past year. It’s great we have made such positive strides to now be talking about, and supporting, women in rugby having children.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the next wave of Red Roses come through and I’m committed to aiding the off-field development of young players where I can. In the meantime, I’ll be supporting from afar!”

Current Red Roses forwards coach Louis Deacon praised Cornborough’s impact on the England squad as he said: “Earning 75 caps for your country is an incredible achievement.

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“Vickii has been the cornerstone of the Red Roses scrum for the past decade. There was a period where her name was the first name you expected to see on the teamsheet, such was her consistency, professionalism and quality.

“She is an extremely talented, much-loved person who has always put the needs of the team and her team-mates first. She will be missed in the Red Roses environment, but we know how amazing a mother she will continue to be.

“We wish her and her young family all the very best for the future and look forward to seeing them all soon.”

Away from the field, Cornborough has ‘Braved the Shave’ to support her sister, Sam, who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last summer.

Over £5,500 has been raised to date with all donations going to Rugby Against Cancer, The Little Princess Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support to help fund further research into this cruel disease.

Cornborough said: “We (Vickii and Sam) both love our long locks, but have decided to take the opportunity to take control and turn this into a positive by donating our long hair to The Little Princess Trust, to be made into children’s wigs.”

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