Source: Harlequins

Zoe Saynor and Deborah McCormack hang up their boots

  • +1

Capped by England and Scotland respectively, Harlequins Women’s second rows Saynor and McCormack have announced their retirement from all forms of rugby.

Saynor, 32, retires from the sport having joined the Club ahead of the 2016/17 season, making an instant impression as a consistently outstanding performer through her dogged determination and work rate on the field.

A popular figure within the playing group, Saynor balanced her playing duties with her career as a PhD lecturer in Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, while also taking great pride in her role rehabilitating patients with chronic health conditions through exercise.

Coming late to rugby after discovering the sport at university, Saynor went on to represent multiple clubs throughout her career, featuring for the Nomads (the front-runner for the Women’s Barbarians team) against South Africa and Wales before going on to earn the first of three England caps in 2013.

Commenting on her retirement, the former England lock said: “I have made the incredibly difficult decision to retire from all rugby. I have been struggling hugely with an injury since early this season and am still not back to baseline with this one. I found a quote that perfectly summed up where my head is at with this decision: “my heart can take the pounding, my mind can take the grind, but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye”.

“My time with Quins has been an absolutely unreal adventure that, as someone who took up rugby very late, has surpassed any expectations.

“Standout memories for me include the Game Changer campaign, which was a huge testament to how far women’s rugby has come.

“At Harlequins we are so privileged to have such an amazing coaching team and I am eternally grateful for the support that Gary Street [former Harlequins Women’s Co-Head Coach] has provided, both at Harlequins and inviting me into the England setup – I have continued to learn from him. Words cannot express how grateful I am to Jock [Harlequins Women’s Forwards Coach Karen Findlay] and how much respect I have for her both on and off the pitch.

“I am also incredibly grateful to the S&C, medical and psychology staff who work so hard behind the scenes to get us onto the pitch and fix us when we are broken.

“I know that Quins will continue to achieve amazing things both on and off the pitch and I can’t wait to be the next biggest Quins fan!”

McCormack, 35, hangs up her boots having joined Harlequins Women ahead of the 2016/17 season alongside Saynor, instantly solidifying herself as a starter in the first team thanks to her sound ability at set-piece and her calm assuredness at the coal face.

A Scotland international, McCormack first represented her country during the 2014 Six Nations, and would go on to travel the world throughout her playing career with clubs from England, Canada and Australia, picking up 31 caps for Scotland in the fifteens game and a further two for the national Sevens side.

Commenting on her retirement, McCormack said: “One of my most memorable games for Quins was playing the Big Game at Twickenham stadium. It was an unreal experience playing in front of a huge number of fans and was testament to the hard work the Club has put in to promoting the Women’s game. Quins have led the way in driving Women’s rugby forward and continue to lead by example.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play for many different teams during my career, and was fortunate enough to represent Scotland for six seasons – wearing the thistle was the greatest honour and I’ll never forget the experiences that tested and challenged me, and the friendships I made.

“One of the standout moments of my career was having the honour of captaining Scotland when we played against Harlequins in a warm-up game for the Six Nations. Being able to lead out the team was an incredible privilege and to do so against my club team was something quite special.

“I’ll miss training with the team, and I’ll miss the game, but rugby has taught me so much and I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter and supporting the team in the seasons to come.”