Alphonsi: "This is an incredible moment"
England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Margaret Alphonsi, aka “Maggie The Machine”, has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list and awarded an MBE for her services to rugby.
The 28-year-old Saracens and England flanker, who made her international debut aged 19 against USA, has made 63 appearances for her country, with two of them coming in Women’s Rugby World Cup finals, in 2006 and 2010.
Alphonsi also helped England to a record-breaking seventh consecutive Six Nations title this year, during which her team became the first in history to not concede a single try throughout the tournament.
“I am so pleased to have been given this great honour by HRH The Queen,” said Alphonsi.
“What makes this honour so special is that it does not just recognise my own personal achievements but that of the England team – I wouldn’t have received this had it not been for the hard work and dedication of the RFUW, the RFU and my England teammates.
“The remarkable work and achievements of the England women’s squad over the past six years has been fantastic, and to have been a part of that has been incredible.
“I certainly have to thank all the people who have supported me along the way. This is an incredible moment and I am really looking forward to going to Buckingham Palace and receiving my MBE.”
Promoting RWC 2015 values
As well as being a force on the field, Alphonsi works tirelessly off it in the promotion of her sport.
In her role as an ER 2015 Ambassador, she is helping to promote RWC 2015’s key values and ensure as many people as possible benefit from the tournament and its legacy.
“I want people to be part of it,” she said following her appointment to the role. “I want to engage everyone, from every background, be they male or female, and from every area of England and I have a voice to do so – that’s quite special.”
She works as Divisional Talent Development Officer for the RFUW in the London & South East region, a role which sees Alphonsi mentoring potential future England rugby stars.
She is also an ambassador for the RFU’s Injured Players Foundation, a patron of Sporting Equals – an organisation which promotes greater involvement between communities – and works with SKRUM, a charity which seeks to empower Swaziland’s young people through rugby.
Alphonsi’s award means that all four of the ER 2015 Ambassadors have now been honoured by the Queen.
ER 2015 Ambassadors honoured
Lawrence Dallaglio received an MBE following England’s triumph in RWC 2003 – he was also the only man to play in every minute of every match in that tournament – and in the Queen’s 2008 birthday honours list, Dallaglio had the title of OBE bestowed upon him for his continued service to charity.
His teammate, and the tournament’s joint-top try-scorer, Will Greenwood also received an MBE in the 2004 New Year’s honours list following his performance in Australia, while Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked England’s winning points against the Wallabies in the Telstra Stadium nearly nine years ago, was awarded the OBE for his efforts.
Though the award is a great honour, Alphonsi is not letting it distract her from her continued success on the field. There’s the small matter of a three-Test series against world champions New Zealand in the autumn, as well as England’s Six Nations title to defend in 2013.
“There are a lot of exciting things coming up for me and I am really looking forward to the start of the new season.”