32-try Wilson retires from England, as RFU cuts women’s pay

RUGBY ROUND-UP: She should be recognised among Croydon’s finest ever international sports performers. But at 26, former Warlingham wing Kay Wilson has announced her retirement

Kay Wilson in try-scoring mode for England. Her retirement, at 26, is a surprise

No real reason was offered publicly, but just hours after her omission from the England training squad for the autumn internationals, Kay Wilson last night announced her retirement from international rugby.

At just 26, as a World Cup- and Grand Slam-winner with 49 caps, the decision seems a premature one for someone who earlier this year scored seven tries in one international match, and who just a couple of months ago was a vital part of the England squad which made it through to the World Cup final.

Sources close to the player deny that a controversial decision by the Rugby Football Union to drop most of the previously full-time professional women’s squad from central contracts for the 15-a-side game played any role in the announcement from Wilson, who learned the game playing minis rugby at Hamsey Green with Warlingham.

Wilson’s retirement from international rugby, a statement from England Rugby noted tellingly, was “effective immediately”.

The controversy over women’s central contracts is because of the wealth of the RFU, the relatively modest amount which such contracts would cost, and that the success of the England women’s teams over the past five years has been because of their ability to be full-time professional players. Estimates suggest that the women’s contracts cost 0.25 per cent of the RFU’s annual budget.

It is understood that Wilson had been offered improved deal from the RFU.

But Wilson’s decision, when at the peak of her career, will be a loss to the England squad.

Wilson said, “I’ve been very fortunate to have played in two World Cups, win two Grand Slams and meet and play alongside some amazing people, but now I feel it’s time for the next chapter in my life.”

Last night, Wilson said, “I genuinely didn’t think I would ever get one cap for England so to finish my career on 49 is something that I am really proud of.”

Wilson scored 32 tries in her 49 Tests across a six-year England career. She was a member of the World Cup-winning team in 2014. She also travelled to Brazil last year for the Rio Olympics as a travelling reserve for Team GB’s Rugby Sevens squad.

During this year’s World Cup, Wilson scored four tries during the tournament, but she is likely to be a sports quiz question for a very long time after she scored seven tries in one match, as England won 64-0 against Scotland at the Stoop in the Six Nations in March this year.

Warlingham’s Adam Downie-Keene breaks through the New Milton defence in his side’s 40-10 win at Hamsey Green last Saturday

The men’s first XV at Wilson’s former club, Warlingham, meanwhile, are putting together a string of decent results, the latest being the 40-10 win over New Milton in London 3SW last Saturday.

Warlingham scored six tries, with Jack Atkinson adding 10 points with the boot. Matthew Richards got the lone first-half try, while in the more open second period, Jon Fox, player-coach John Hosken, on his debut, George Davis, Alex Skinner and fly-half Louis Rossi-Jones all touched down for the bonus point win.

“Credit to the players,” Nick Warren, the director of rugby, said. “The squad responded well at training after a disappointing defeat last week. To win and get the try bonus point is a good day at the office.

“We are constantly looking at innovative ways we can develop and improve our performance. We need to take our home form on the road, and we’re looking forward to Portsmouth away in a couple of weeks, which will be a big challenge”.

Warlingham’s next home fixture at Hamsey Green, against Weybridge, is on October 28.

Down in Surrey 1, Chipstead top the table after a 14-3 win over Old Wimbledonians, but three matches into the season things are very tight, with just two league points covering the top seven clubs in the 10-team division.

Old Whitgiftians, with two wins, are in the hunt for promotion after an impressive 60-5 away win at Old Freemans. Their next home game is against the Law Society at Croham Manor Road on October 21.

Old Mid-Whitgiftians were also in winning form, squeezing past Old Blues 23-22. Their next home game is on October 28, against Amplefordians, who last Saturday snatched a late win, 26-24, over Old Walcountians, who were annoyed with themselves after leading for all but the final seconds of the game. Walcountians will need a win at the Clockhouse over Old Georgians, their next home game on October 21, to avoid losing touch with their competitive division’s leading sides.

In Surrey 2 there were defeats for both the local sides, Streatham and Croydon (their first loss this term, 18-55 at home to Reeds Weybridge) and Purley John Fisher (26-14 at Bec Old Boys).

While in Surrey 3, Croydon got nicked by the Met Police, having their collars felt by 37-10. Despite losing all three of their league games so far, Croydon, thanks to a solitary bonus point, have three other clubs below them in the table. It’s going to be a long, hard winter…

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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