First women inducted into international rugby hall of fame

A New Zealand rugby fan. (Jacky Naegelen, Reuters)

A New Zealand rugby fan. (Jacky Naegelen, Reuters)

Stars from women’s rugby, such as New Zealand’s Anna Richards and the United States’ Patty Jervey, rubbed shoulders with greats JPR Williams and Michael Lynagh as the first female inductees into the International Rugby Board (IRB) Hall of Fame were announced on Monday.

Monday’s ceremony during the World Rugby ConfEx in London saw 15 new entrants into the Hall of Fame, with four of the first six women to be so honoured having won the Women’s Rugby World Cup, from Jervey at the inaugural tournament in 1991 to Richards taking a fourth successive global title with the Black Ferns in 2010.

Farah Palmer captained New Zealand to three World Cup titles, Nathalie Amiel coached France to a third-place finish at the 2014 edition on home soil earlier this year, having previously won 56 caps for her country at centre, while England’s Gill Burns and Carol Isherwood both enjoyed distinguished careers.

“It is particularly pleasing to be able to induct the first women into the IRB Hall of Fame,” said IRB chairperson Bernard Lapasset. “These six were wonderful players and, in many ways, trail-blazers for the women’s game in their countries and around the world,” the Frenchman added.

“We saw the success of the Women’s Rugby World Cup this year in France and it is doubtful that would have been possible if not for the pioneering spirit of those great players and personalities that went before.”

Prolific players
Among the men elevated to the Hall of Fame on Monday, was former fullback Williams, a mainstay of the successful Wales team of the 1970s and one of a select few who played in all eight Tests combined of the British and Irish Lions sides that won series in New Zealand in 1971 and in South Africa three years later.

Centre turned fly-half Lynagh was the most prolific Test points-scorer of his generation in a career where he helped Australia complete a Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland in 1984 and was later a key figure in the Wallaby team that won the 1991 World Cup in England.

Also inducted Monday were Bill Beaumont, captain of England’s 1980 Grand Slam team and later a rugby commentator and administrator as well as Ireland’s Keith Wood and France’s Jo Maso.

“The men’s inductions include some of the biggest names in our sport over the past 40 years and all have contributed immensely to the enjoyment we have all felt watching top-level rugby over the decades,” Lapasset said.

Latest IRB Hall of Fame inductees: 
Nathalie Amiel (France), Gill Burns (England), Patty Jervey (United States), Carol Isherwood (England), Anna Richards (New Zealand), Farah Palmer (New Zealand), Keith Rowlands (Wales), Jim Greenwood (Scotland), JPR Williams (Wales), Michael Lynagh (Australia), Jo Maso (France), Keith Wood (Ireland), Ieuan Evans (Wales), Jason Leonard (England), and Bill Beaumont (England). – AFP


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