Alumna Liza Burgess has today (Wednesday 12 September) been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, recognising her achievements and outstanding contribution to the game.
This deserved accolade reflects an outstanding and inspiring career in rugby, which really took off when Burgess was named the first captain for Wales Women’s rugby team. During her illustrious playing career spanning nearly three decades, Burgess led her team on 62 occasions, played in four Rugby World Cups and ended her career with 93 caps to her name.
On her induction Burgess commented:
“I’m lucky to have played a sport I love and to be honoured in this way is unbelievable. It’s genuinely difficult to put into words how I feel. All the other players being inducted are all phenomenal. I’m just really honoured to be inducted alongside Stephen Larkham, Ronan O’Gara, Pierre Villepreux and Bryan Williams who are all legends of the game.
“This award has come out of the blue and something I would never have expected, but hopefully it shows that women’s rugby is here to stay.”
Liza’s rugby career began at Loughborough in 1983, her first foray into the sport. It was here where she met fellow Loughborough alumnus and Hall of Fame member Jim Greenwood who coached Burgess for both Loughborough and Great Britain.
“I was extremely lucky to have known and be coached by Jim Greenwood who was so insightful and passionate about rugby and a huge believer in women’s rugby. He was a great friend, highly respected lecturer and coach and he remains the biggest influence on my rugby career.
“Loughborough is an amazing university with fantastic sporting facilities and clubs, inspirational people and a huge wealth of knowledge and connections in the sporting world and beyond. Its reputation precedes it, and even now when I mention that I studied sport at Loughborough people rate it as among one of the top, if not best universities for sport.”
Having studied Education and Physical Education at Loughborough University graduating in 1987, Liza’s career in coaching, and eventually teaching, naturally progressed off the pitch as she became Assistant Coach for her country. Two World Cups later and she recently worked with the inaugural Barbarians side before taking on the Assistant Coach role at Hartpury, whilst maintaining her duties as an Assistant Head Teacher at Downend School in South Gloucestershire.
Having worked alongside Burgess when he was Head Coach of Wales Women, current Loughborough Lightning Head Coach Rhys Edwards shared his thoughts on the recognition, commenting:
“To see Liza be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame is fantastic. Having worked closely with her at the Welsh Rugby Union with the national squad, I have seen first-hand how inspirational she has been for the women’s game.
“The women’s rugby landscape within England and Wales has been shaped by the determination and effort of Liza’s generation, with Liza at the forefront of this. Her achievements in the game are exceptional, with her leadership both on and off the field ensuring that women’s rugby players have the platform to play today. I’m proud to be able to say that I have had the pleasure to have worked with such a role model, and to also be part of the Loughborough University rugby family where she started her rugby journey.”