A Lewisham-born women’s rugby star took to the stage with Mayor of London Boris Johnson on Monday to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 draw.
Maggie Alphonsi appeared at the Tate Modern with Johnson and New Zealand rugby captain Richie McCaw. Debbie Jevons, RWC 2015 CEO, and Bernard Lapasset, chairman of the International Rugby Board, were also there to select teams for the competition’s group stage.
Alphonsi told Eastlondonlines: “Being selected to make the draw was surreal. I knew I would be part of selecting the teams as a panel, but it was a surprise to be on stage beside a legend and a hero of mine, Richie McCaw. He is the best player in the world.
“As for Boris Johnson, he is a cracking guy. He always had something interesting to say.”
The England women’s flanker, who received an MBE in June as part of the Queen’s birthday honours list, said that to be selected as one of the faces of an international competition was humbling.
“I was given the official role back in September and was taken aback.
“To be a female rugby player and be asked to be an ambassador for the men’s game; I felt honoured. It is quite special to be picked alongside names like Will Greenwood, Lawrence Dallaglio and Jonny Wilkinson.”
As an ambassador for RWC 2015, Alphonsi has the role of promoting rugby and its values. On top of this, she would like to keep women’s rugby “in the picture” throughout the country.
At the weekend, England’s women completed a series victory over their counterparts from New Zealand, after defeating them three times in the space of a week.