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2022: A record-breaking year for women’s rugby
A superb 12 months has raised the bar on so many different levels.
With two Rugby World Cups, a Commonwealth Games and the resumption of a full-blown HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, there hasn’t been any shortage of top-class competition for followers of women’s rugby to savour in 2022.
The fans that have flocked to the stadiums in record numbers have been treated to some outstanding displays, both collectively and individually.
Here, we take a look at some of the main records that fell over the last 12 months.
⚪ Becoming a record appearance maker— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 30, 2022
⚪ Scoring the opening try in #ENGvAUS
⚪ Reaching the #RWC2021 semi-finals
Enjoy this day, @sarah_hunter8 👏 pic.twitter.com/OF2TD7FJBH
Attendances through the roof
New Zealand’s thrilling 34-31 victory over England in the final of Rugby World Cup 2021 was watched by the largest-ever crowd for a women’s international.
The attendance of 42,579 fans at Eden Park in Auckland easily eclipsed the previous crowd high of 34,235 at the same venue on the opening day of the tournament.
It follows on from record crowds for Red Roses internationals during the Women’s Six Nations and boosts England's hopes of selling out 80,000-seater Twickenham when they host Rugby World Cup 2025.
Woodman breaks try-scoring record
Portia Woodman is living proof that the best players deliver on the biggest stage.
The Black Ferns winger scored her 19th and 20th tournament tries in the 55-3 quarter-final victory over Wales at RWC 2021, to become the leading try scorer at either the men’s or women’s Rugby World Cup, passing the record previously held by England’s Sue Day.
Woodman scored 13 tries at Rugby World Cup 2017 and added another seven to that tally five years later on home soil, having scored an earlier brace against Wales in the pool stages on top of a hat-trick against Australia in the tournament’s curtain-raiser.
Hunter becomes England’s most-capped player
Number eight and captain Sarah Hunter became the most-capped England international in history during Rugby World Cup 2021, winning her 138th cap in the Red Roses’ 41-5 quarter-final win over Australia. It took Hunter past Rocky Clark’s previous record.
A hugely popular figure, Hunter received a standing ovation from both sides when she was replaced in the 54th minute. By the tournament’s end, she had added two more caps to her tally, with 84 of her 140 tests coming as captain.
As a player still at the top of her game Hunter has no plans to retire yet, but at 37 years of age, it might be a big ask for her to become the most-capped international of any country, in men’s or women’s rugby.
Wales and British and Irish Lions second-row Alun Wyn Jones currently holds that record with 168 caps.
Cocksedge signs off on a high
Black Ferns scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge had long made it known that she would retire after Rugby World Cup 2021.
She did so as her country’s most-capped player having achieved the feat in the 2022 Pacific Four Series against Australia in June.
The former World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year won her 58th cap that day and went on to finish with 69 caps as well as a third Rugby World Cup winner’s medal.
Treble on board for Australia sevens
Back in September, Australia’s women’s sevens team completed a stunning treble when they defeated arch-rivals New Zealand in the final of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 in Cape Town.
The 24-22 victory capped a dominant year for Tim Walsh’s team who were also crowned Commonwealth Games and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions earlier in the year.
Red Roses’ historic winning run ends at 30
When England defeated Wales 73-7 in a Rugby World Cup 2021 warm-up match at Ashton Gate in Bristol, they created another slice of history.
It was the Red Roses’ 25th successive victory – a feat no test nation, male or female, had previously accomplished.
The winning streak began in July 2019 and only came to an end in their last fixture of the year – the final of Rugby World Cup 2021, at which stage they had won 30 on the bounce.