Pioneers of the game Gill Burns and Carol Isherwood were among the first six women to enter the Hall of Fame.
Burns (pictured), an iconic figure in the women’s game, lifted the Women’s World Cup in 1994. The Number 8 was capped 73 times in a career lasting from 1988-2002.
Isherwood was a true pioneer of the women’s game in England in a career as player, coach and administrator. She was a founding member of the Rugby Football Union for Women, captained Great Britain in their first game against France in 1986 and also skippered England in their first game against Wales in 1987. Isherwood was also the first female to be appointed to the Committee of the IRB Council.
England Women Head Coach Gary Street said: “It’s fantastic to see both Carol and Gill recognised for their contribution to the women’s game. While our World Cup win this year has brought women’s rugby into the spotlight, the work that preceded that stretches back for many years, Carol and Gill were at the forefront of that and fully deserve their place in the IRB Hall of Fame.”
Former England internationals Jason Leonard and Bill Beaumont were also inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.
Beaumont played 41 times for England, captaining them to a Grand Slam in 1980 – their first in 23 years. He also captained the Lions on the 1980 tour to South Africa and is currently Chairman of the RFU.
Leonard won a record 114 caps in an England career spanning 14 years, as well as five for the Lions. In that time he witnessed the advent of professionalism, won four Grand Slams and a World Cup in 2003.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset, said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great game.
“It is particularly pleasing to be able to induct the first women into the IRB Hall of Fame. These six were wonderful players and, in many ways, trail-blazers for the women’s game in their countries and around the world.
“We saw the success of the Women’s Rugby World Cup this year in France and it is doubtful that would have been possible if not for the pioneering spirit of those great players and personalities that went before. And the men’s inductions include some of the biggest names in our sport over the past 40 years and all have contributed immensely to the enjoyment we have all felt watching top-level rugby over the decades.”
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “Huge congratulations to Bill and Jason for their Hall of Fame induction. They are players who represented England with great distinction. Bill was a great leader on the field and has proved equally adept off the field in his role as Chairman of the RFU. For a front row forward to win 114 caps across 14 years shows what an outstanding player and character Jason is. He won everything in the international game from Grand Slams to a World Cup and also won with the Lions. Well done to both of them.”
The new inductions are:
Nathalie Amiel (France), Gill Burns (England), Patty Jervey (USA), Carol Isherwood (England), Anna Richards (New Zealand), Farah Palmer (New Zealand), Keith Rowlands (Wales), Jim Greenwood (Scotland), JPR Williams (Wales), Michael Lynagh (Australia), Jo Maso (France), Keith Wood (Ireland), Ieuan Evans (Wales), Jason Leonard (England) and Bill Beaumont (England).