‘Having twins is hard’: Vickii Cornborough quits international rugby

Pioneering England prop Vickii Cornborough has announced her retirement from international rugby, stating that she is “not ready” to balance motherhood with playing for her country.

Cornborough won 75 caps for the Red Roses and reached two World Cup finals but her lasting legacy will be her groundbreaking work as vice-chair of the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) in creating the RFU’s maternity policy.

The 34-year-old has herself been on maternity leave from the England setup after giving birth to twins last summer.

“I’m probably the strongest I’ve ever been but I’m just not there yet mentally because having twins is really hard,” Cornborough told BBC Sport. She added that “living off a couple of hours of sleep a night is not conducive to a high-performance pressure environment.

“Stepping away from the Red Roses and announcing my retirement is the right thing for me to do.”

She said: “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!”

After featuring for England at Under-19 and Under-20 level, Cornborough debuted at senior level against Wales in 2015, becoming the 198th player to earn a cap for the Red Roses.

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She went on to be part of six Six Nations-winning sides, including five grand slams, and was named player of the match in two Red Roses matches at Twickenham. In total, she played her part in 63 England wins, scoring four tries.

The Red Roses forwards coach, Louis Deacon, paid tribute to Cornborough, saying: “Earning 75 caps for your country is an incredible achievement.

“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.”

The Guardian