Saracens’ Current and Former World Cup Stars
Building a legacy is one of the most important things in sport. Over in New Zealand, the Red Roses are doing just that.
Tomorrow at 6.30am UK time, the Red Roses will face the Black Ferns in the World Cup Final, looking for a third world title and a first since 2014.
Five of our eight Saracens who were selected for the tournament have been named in the matchday 23, as the Red Roses look to secure victory at a sold-out Eden Park.
Yesterday, the Red Roses squad spent time with former England internationals, highlighting the importance of these women as pioneers in growing the game.
Ahead of tomorrow’s final, Saracens wanted to mark our former players who have played in previous Rugby World Cups for England.
The first edition of the World Cup saw England finish as runners-up to the USA in Wales. Whilst the tournament wasn’t officially recognised by World Rugby until 2009, this was the event that started it all.
The squad was captained by former Saracen Karen Almond, whilst Emma Mitchell, Jane Mitchell and Nicky Ponsford also wore Saracens colours in their careers.
England beat Spain and Italy in the pool stages, before defeating France in the semi-final to set up a final against the USA. However, it wasn’t to be for the side, as they suffered a 19-6 defeat to the Americans.
They had however, laid the foundations for the tournaments to come.
The 1994 squad was again captained by Almond, with Emma Mitchell, Jane Mitchell and Nicky Ponsford all selected for their second tournament. They were joined in the squad by vice-captain Janis Ross, Maxine Edwards and Genevieve Shore, as England secured their first world title, gaining revenge on the USA for their defeat three years previously.
Held in Scotland, after the Netherlands had pulled out of hosting the tournament, England defeated the tournament hosts and Russia in the group stages. Victories against Canada and France followed, before a 38-23 victory over the USA in the final.
Both Emma Mitchell and Nicky Ponsford returned for their third World Cup, whilst Maxine Edwards was again selected, having missed the 1994 tournament. Former Saracens Claire Frost, Susie Appleby, Helen Clayton and Claire Green were also selected for the tournament.
England were unable to defend their title in Amsterdam, suffering a defeat to New Zealand in the semi-finals. However, they defeated Canada in the third-place play-off, to secure bronze at the tournament.
A large number of the 1998 squad were again selected for the 2002 tournament in Spain, with Appleby, Clayton, Edwards, Frost and Mitchell all selected. They were joined by Assunta di Biase, Christine Diver, Amy Garnett, Teresa O’Reilly and Jennifer Phillips in the squad.
England again cruised through the group stages, before victories over Italy, Spain and Canada to set up a final against New Zealand. In the end, it was the southern hemisphere side who came out on top, as they secured a 19-9 victory over England.
Eight Saracens were selected for the 2006 tournament in Canada, with Amy Garnett and Helen Clayton both selected again. They were joined by Maggie Alphonsi, Karen Andrew, Charlotte Barras, Rachael Burford, Rocky Clark and Tamara Taylor.
It would prove to be a familiar story for England, as they edged out Canada in the semi-finals, before being unable to stop the Black Ferns in the final, as New Zealand secured a 25-17 victory.
A home World Cup, which culminated in a nail-biting final at the Twickenham Stoop, saw six who have played for Saracens selected, with Clark, Garnett, Taylor, Alphonsi, Burford and Barras all representing the country in their home tournament having played in 2006.
England beat Ireland, the USA and Kazakhstan in the group stages and secured a 15-0 victory over Australia in the semi-finals, before being edged out 13-10 by New Zealand in front of a crowd of over 13,000.
The second World Cup triumph and a first in twenty years saw England defeat Canada 21-9 in the final, to secure a famous victory. That victorious squad contained seven who have played for Saracens, with Clark, Taylor, Alphonsi and Burford all returning. They were joined in the squad by Vicky Fleetwood, Marlie Packer and Claire Allen, with all seven players selected in the matchday squad for the final.
England and Canada had met in the group stages and played out a 13-13 draw, but England were not to be denied the title this time, as a try from Danielle Waterman and sixteen points from Emily Scarratt secured victory in France.
The most recent tournament in Ireland saw England come agonisingly close to retaining their crown. In the end, it was an inspired second-half display from the Black Ferns that swung the match in their favour, as England were left to settle for second.
That squad saw Clark, Fleetwood, Packer, Taylor and Burford all return, with Poppy Cleall, Leanne Infante and Emily Scott all appearing at their first World Cup.
A perfect group-stage record saw England advance to the semi-finals, where they defeated France, before going down 41-32 in the final to the Black Ferns.
Packer, Cleall and Infante are all set to face the Black Ferns again in the final tomorrow, whilst they are joined in the matchday side by Zoe Harrison and Holly Aitchison.
Including this year’s tournament in New Zealand, 33 players who have worn the Saracens jersey have represented England at the Rugby World Cup.
It is their legacy, alongside those who came before, that has helped drive women’s rugby to the place it finds itself today. However, it is also their legacy in a Saracens shirt that has inspired so many others to tread the path that they have trodden.
Whatever happens tomorrow, the legacy this current crop has been building will only continue to grow.