England Women’s Rugby star Margaret Alphonsi has been honoured with an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Alphonsi has become one of the most well-known names in women’s rugby, with her barnstorming performances during the 2010 Rugby World Cup earning her fans all around the world in both the men’s and women’s game. The 28-year-old has been honoured for her services to rugby.
Making her debut as a 19-year-old against the USA in 2003, Alphonsi has now amassed 63 caps and has played in two Rugby World Cups (2006 and 2010), where England finished second to New Zealand on both occasions. She also featured in the inaugural 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens, where England lifted the Plate crown.
Most recently Alphonsi was part of the England team that defeated the world champions New Zealand in a historic three-test series in the autumn, as well as helping England to a record-breaking seventh consecutive Six Nations title, and a sixth Grand Slam in seven years. England also became the first team in Six Nations history not to concede a try in that tournament.
“I’m so pleased to have been given this great honour by HRH, the Queen,” said Alphonsi. “What makes this honour so special is that it does not just recognise my own personal achievements but that of the England team – I wouldn’t have received this had it not been for the hard work and dedication of the RFUW, the RFU and my England teammates.
"The remarkable work and achievements of the England Women’s squad over the past six years has been fantastic, and to have been a part of that has been incredible. I certainly have to thank all the people who have supported me along the way.
Looking forward Alphonsi is determined to match and better her and the England team’s success next season with England taking on New Zealand in three autumn international tests, as well as defending their Six Nations Grand Slam crown. Alphonsi is also keen to return to international sevens action and will be pushing hard for a place in the England squad for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens if England qualify for the tournament.
Alphonsi, who works as Divisional Talent Development Officer for the RFUW in the London and South East region, mentoring and inspiring potential England Rugby talent of the future, is also an ambassador for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Her role, alongside other England Rugby greats – Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Will Greenwood – is to promote the tournament’s key values and ensure as many people as possible, and not just traditional rugby fans, can be a part of the tournament and its legacy.
Alphonsi is also an ambassador for the RFU’s Injured Players Foundation, a Patron of Sporting Equals and does charity work for SKRUM, delivering rugby in Swaziland to help against gender and violence.
“There are a lot of exciting things coming up for me and I am really looking forward to the start of the new season,” added Alphonsi. “For now though this is an incredible moment and I am really looking forward to going to Buckingham Palace and receiving my MBE. I will be taking my mum to the Palace, and I cannot lie, she is very excited, so much so she has already brought her hat and dress."
photos Janos Schmidt