WATCH: England Women’s rugby team visit borough for top honour

The borough has honoured the England Women’s rugby team at a special ceremony to mark their 2014 World Cup victory.

The borough council awarded the team the Freedom of the Borough - the highest honour it can give - on Wednesday last week.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Richard Dodd presented the honour outside the town hall

Deputy Mayor Cllr Richard Dodd presented the honour outside the town hall

Teammates unveiled a special plaque to commemorate their achievement and met excited fans at Rugby Visitor Centre for photos.

The plaque will form part of the town’s Pathway of Fame, which is due to be refreshed ready for the men’s Rugby World Cup 2015.

The women’s squad, who won the Team of the Year award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show on Sunday, also visited The Close at Rugby School – the site where the sport of rugby began in 1823.

Speaking at the ceremony at the town hall, Cllr Michael Stokes, leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “For the second time in recent years, we have been given the opportunity to give our highest honour to a team who have won the Rugby World Cup.

No Caption ABCDE NNL-141215-160941001

No Caption ABCDE NNL-141215-160941001

“Following the England Rugby Women’s Team’s success in France, in August this year, it is my great honour to offer my congratulations for their success on becoming world champions for the first time in 20 years.

“As a town, we have capitalised on our links with the game and in 2015, we are about to embark on yet another unique venture.

“As we all know, England will host the 2015 Rugby World Cup and Rugby borough will quite rightly, play its part. Building on our strong links to the game, the IRB have awarded Rugby ‘Host City’ status.

“In fact, we are the only location to be given this status without hosting a game.”

He added: “Today, we not only honour the team for their sporting success, but also in recognition of the fact they have raised the profile of the women’s game to ensure professional status, inspiring women’s teams, not only in Rugby borough, but also nationally and almost certainly around the world.”

Labour councillor Claire Edwards said the team had encouraged more women and girls to achieve sporting excellence.

Speaking at the ceremony, she said: “I am delighted to be able to formally welcome members of the England Women’s Squad to Rugby, especially after winning the World Cup in such a thrilling tournament and final in Paris in August.

“And particularly to congratulate a team of part-timers who worked so hard and made real sacrifices to be able to play rugby at international level representing their country.

“It’s particularly so when, unlike other sports and particularly male sports, you have achieved so much and held down full time jobs.”