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Red Roses flanker Izzy Noel-Smith announces retirement from rugby

Bristol Ladies and Red Roses back-row forward, Izzy Noel-Smith, has announced her retirement from rugby.

The 29-year-old, who made her England debut in 2011, calls time on a glittering career after winning 42 caps for her country.  

Izzy’s career highlights include winning two Six Nations Grand Slams, being part of the side that sealed a 3-0 series whitewash over Australia, Canada and New Zealand in 2017, while also being part of the side that reached the Women’s Rugby World Cup final in the same year, in which she scored a late try.

Noel-Smith started playing with Monmouth minis before joining Hereford, Doha, Cullompton, Bath and finally Bristol where she has played for the last nine seasons. Noel-Smith also played for England Sevens between 2011-2013.

She was educated at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls and Bath University where she studied Coach Education and Sports Development.

“I’ve played rugby since I was eight-years old, I was the only girl in an all-boys team; I didn’t even know a girl could play for England,” said Noel-Smith.

“The journey has meant so much to me and it’s been a huge part of my life, so I know it’s going to be strange when it ends, but it’s exciting to have things on the horizon.

“Playing for your country and singing the national anthem is something that never loses its sparkle, it is so special. To look up and see your family and friends staring back at you is an immense feeling of pride. Every time you take the field it is as if they are there in the shirt with you.

“Playing for your country and singing the national anthem is something that never loses its sparkle, it is so special. To look up and see your family and friends staring back at you is an immense feeling of pride. Every time you take the field it is as if they are there in the shirt with you."

Izzy Noel-Smith

“Rugby has been such a huge part of my life. I’ve experienced so many highs and lows and am lucky to have made so many friends for life.”  

Simon Middleton, England Women head coach, said: “Izzy is a player that always brought a lot of energy to the squad, in camp, in training and on pitch. Izzy had a great skill set that enabled her to adapt and play in a variety of positions in the back row, which is a real asset for any team to have.

Middleton added: “Izzy should be immensely proud of her contribution to the game and we would like to thank and recognise her for her dedication, hard work and commitment over the past number of years. We want to wish Izzy all the best as she starts her next chapter.”

Speaking about her decision to retire from both international and club rugby, Bristol Rugby head coach Kim Oliver said: “Izzy will be a huge loss to the club – not just to Bristol Ladies, but to Women’s rugby in general. She is a real character and brings joy to everyone she meets.

“Izzy is just happy-go-lucky, she turns up to training and you know she’s there because she’s loud – either grumpy or in one of those moods where you can’t shut her up! Her energy is infectious.

“She will be hugely missed, she’s been a tremendous ambassador for the sport and all of us at the club will miss her contribution both on and off the pitch. We wish her the very best!”


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