England Women Sevens player and former Red Rose Claire Allan will retire from professional rugby at the end of the 2018/19 season and return to a career with the Met Police.
The 34-year-old cross-format back made her England debut against Scotland in the 2007 Six Nations, scoring a try on her first outing in the white shirt. Allan has won 36 fifteens caps and 23 sevens caps for her country as well as scoring 29 tries (15 in fifteens and 14 in sevens).
In her 12-year career Allan has appeared in four world cups across both versions of the game, helping the Red Roses become world champions in 2014. She also represented Great Britain when sevens made its Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games and won a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games for Team England.
After winning the 2014 World Cup in the 15-a-side format, Allan earned a full-time sevens contract. To fulfil this commitment she took a career break as a police officer with the Met Police in the Acton proactive robbery squad to which she will soon return. At the time of taking up the sevens contract Allan had already played in four of the five tournaments in the 2015/16 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
She went on to represent a Great Britain side that finished fourth in the inaugural rugby sevens Olympic tournament in 2016 before returning to fifteen-a-side action – after a 16-month gap – in the 10-5 win over France in the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stoop later the same year.
Allan scored the last try of that series, diving over in the corner as England beat Canada 39-6 at Twickenham Stadium, before injury ruled her out of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017.
After injury kept her out for a period of time, she was again part of the full-time sevens squad for 2017/18 season. Allan played in three of the five tournaments in the world series (Dubai, Kitakyushu and Paris) and earned selection for her third consecutive Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco last year.
This season, Allan has appeared in three series tournaments, captaining England in the final leg in Biarritz last weekend.
Commenting on her retirement at the end of the season, Allan said: “It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to have represented England and GB for the past decade.
“I started playing rugby when it was completely amateur, juggling a full time job while playing for club and country. Through the hard work of players and the RFU, I am so proud that younger players now have professional female rugby player role models to aspire to.
“Highlights in my career have included participating in World Cups and an Olympic Games. However, my warmest memories will always involve the fun and laughter I shared with my team mates over the years. Through the highs and lows, humour with the girls has been the most important thing. Rugby has gifted me with team mates I now call best friends, and that is without a doubt what I am most grateful for.
“I would like to thank all the physios, doctors and coaches who assisted me during my career. Three ACL constructions and numerous ligaments in between, I couldn’t have done it without your support and guidance.
“Next for me, returning to the Met Police in October. I’m looking forward to a fresh focus and chance to make a difference although not looking forward to the shift work quite as much!
“Till then, I will most definitely make the most of a few celebratory drinks this summer!”
England Women Sevens head coach James Bailey said: “Claire has had an amazing career. She has been outstanding for England Rugby. She has led from the front and had some great achievements both in the fifteens and the sevens game. She is definitely someone that we will sorely miss.
“Claire is all heart. She takes her enjoyment from the game from working really hard. She loves that part of sevens and you know that’s what you’re going to get every time she takes to the field – that unprecedented work rate for the team and that intensity that she brings.
“Claire’s impact has been massive. She’s a pioneer of the game. The opportunities that players have now in a full-time programme playing on the world series as it currently is and being able to compete in the Olympic games is due to Claire and her like. What she’s done in terms of the foundations and setting those stones is massive and we can’t ever overlook that.”
Allan began playing rugby with Richmond at the age of 14 returning there in 2009 and winning the Women’s Premiership five times with the club. She has also represented Saracens, winning the premiership title with them once.
Initially educated at St Stephen’s Junior School and Orleans Park Secondary School, both in Twickenham, she gained a BTEC in Sport and Exercise at Loughborough University.
Courtesy of the RFU