Sophie Hemming and Rebecca Essex retire from international rugby

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Two of England’s Women’s Rugby World Cup winners have announced their retirement from international rugby.

Prop Sophie Hemming and second row Rebecca Essex, who both starred in England’s 21-9 World Cup final victory over Canada in August, will hang up their international boots with immediate effect.

Hemming, 34, has proved herself to be a world class tight-head prop since making her debut in 2007. She has since gone on to amass an impressive 71 caps, compete in several winning Six Nations campaigns and two Rugby World Cups.

Hemming said: “This has not been a decision that has been easy to make but having achieved my goal of winning the World Cup I feel the time is right to stand aside and allow some of the hugely talented youngsters to take the tight head shirt on to the next level in preparation for the 2017 World Cup.

“I have had so many fantastic memories and experiences along the way, from scoring two tries against Canada last year, the World Cup final and hearing a chorus of ‘Swing Low’ as we stepped off the team bus in front of hundreds of family and friends after we’d won the World Cup. And although I will miss the international scene dearly, I hope to stay involved in the England set-up in some capacity as a coach or mentor.