England's Cornborough retires from internationals

2 weeks ago 25
Vickii Cornborough in action for EnglandVickii Cornborough's last match for England was their World Cup final defeat against New Zealand in 2022

England prop Vickii Cornborough has retired from international rugby, saying she is "not ready" to balance motherhood and playing for her country.

The 34-year-old won 75 caps for the Red Roses and reached two World Cup finals.

She has been on maternity leave from the England set-up after having 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.

"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."

The Harlequins prop made her England debut in 2015 and played at the 2017 and 2021 World Cups.

She won four Six Nations titles in a row for England between 2019 and 2022.

Her last Test for England was their World Cup final defeat by New Zealand in 2022, a match she played while unaware she was pregnant.

England will host the Women's World Cup in 2025 for the first time since 2010.

"It's a big weight off my shoulders to finally admit it to myself and say I'm ready [to retire]," said Cornborough, who has maintained a career in the technology industry with the same company for 10 years, alongside her England contract.

"It's a life-changing decision. It's something I'm excited but nervous about because England has been my life for the last 10 years."

She credits her "dual career" with Cloud Direct for giving her the "choice of when and how I can retire from professional rugby on my terms.

Cornborough was the second England player, after lock Abbie Ward, to announce a pregnancy after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) updated its maternity policy in February 2023.

Previously, the RFU did not have a maternity policy designed specifically for players.

Cornborough, who was elected vice-chair of the Rugby Players Association in 2019, becoming the first woman to hold an RPA leadership role, described the old policy as "not fit for purpose".

She is also keen to celebrate the different paths that she and Abbie Ward have taken on their journeys to motherhood.

"I'm a very private person and I didn't want it going out everywhere, there are so many emotions," she said.

"I wanted to control my own narrative."

Cornborough 'Braves the Shave' to support sister

Vickii Cornborough with her hair shavedVickii Cornborough has shaved her head to support her sister Sam, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2023

Weeks before Cornborough gave birth to her twin daughters, her sister Sam, who also has two young children, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Cornborough is an ambassador for Rugby Against Cancer and took part in cancer charity Macmillan's Brave the Shave campaign, raising more than £5,000.

"She had quite an aggressive form of cancer - she had to have a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy," said Cornborough.

"She's just completed chemo - she's an absolute trooper. She was worried about losing her hair and losing her anonymity. I said: 'Why don't I lose my hair as well?'

"My hair used to be down to my waist. I've now sent it to the Little Princess Trust."

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