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Trio call time on England careers

England Women's World Cup-winning trio Margaret Alphonsi, Joanna McGilchrist and Katherine Merchant have announced their retirements from international rugby.

All three players starred in the World Cup final last month, when England beat Canada 21-9 to lift the trophy for the second time, having previously won the tournament in 1994.

Alphonsi, who plays for Saracens, earned 74 caps over an 11-year England career, and wo n a record-breaking seven consecutive Six Nations Grand Slam titles.

"I've been fortunate enough to have had a great sporting career and feel it's the right time to retire now that we are world champions," the 30-year-old flanker said.

"I have so many special memories playing for England but the best one was winning the World Cup. I can now certainly retire with a smile on my face."

Merchant, 28, is retiring on medical advice after sustaining a number of concussions during her career.

The 58-cap Worcester winger, who made her debut in 2005 and scored 44 tries, said: "While it is very disappointing to have to retire, I am hugely proud to be part of our World Championship-winning team and feel I have achieved what others never will.

"I very much plan to stay involved in rugby as it is a sport I love. It is a sport that has given me so much and now I have the opportunity to give something back."

Wasps' McGilchrist, 31, is also hanging up her boots having made a 63rd international appearance against Canada.

"It was a great honour to play for England," said McGilchrist, who made her England debut in 2007 and scored six tries.

"I have many fond memories but the highlight is, of course, winning the World Cup. The direction in which the game is now going is really exciting, as are the opportunities it will provide."

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