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    5. The 30 best rugby players in Britain right now

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    The 30 best rugby players in Britain right now

    As 2023 draws to a close, we're taking a closer look at the women's rugby players who will shine this year. To be in the top 30 they must currently be playing domestically in the UK.

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    30 – Caitlan Leaney (Harlequins and Australia)

    Leaney has played a valuable role in an injury-plagued Harlequins side that has fallen into disarray since achieving domestic glory in 2021. A poacher in the lineout, a dominant tackler and a threat after the breakdown, she was part of the Wallarus team that made history by beating France at the WXV. With former Worcester head coach Joe Yapp now in charge of Australia, there are even bigger things to come for the castle.

    29 – Katie Buchanan (Exeter Chiefs)

    It was a breakout year for young forward Buchanan. With incredible speed and instincts in pursuit of the ball, she has established herself as an electric outside threat for Exeter Chiefs, but it is her jackaling work on the flanks, as evidenced in her side's win over Bristol last month, that is equally impressive. An England call-up is undoubtedly imminent.

    28 – Sarah Tunesi (Sale and Italy)

    The north of England welcomed Italy's thunderous early-season goal and Tunesi, a player who thrives on contact, has already made her presence felt with her strong blows. When you factor in her sharp off-load play, she's a player any team would be happy with. Will be key for Italy in the Six Nations.

    Sarah Tunesi from Sale immediately settled into Sale Sharks Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images 27 – Lana Skeldon (Bristol and Scotland)

    An emblematic figure in Scotland's front row, Skeldon's effectiveness at close quarters was highlighted by her four tries in this year's Six Nations. A tireless tackler, her move to Bristol to face an All England first-row team will only make her stronger.

    26 – Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury and Wales)

    Jones highlighted her leadership qualities this year, having captained Wales in the tough WXV tournament. She also used her platform to criticize the non-existent television coverage of her team's friendlies in the lead-up to the competition.

    25 – Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury and Ireland)

    One of the hardest workers in women's football, Monaghan played a key role in Gloucester-Hartpury's title-winning season before captaining Ireland to the WXV3 title. A dominant tackler, she is a typical forward who does all the invisible work and has a big role in the lineout.

    24 – Rachel Johnson (Exeter Chiefs and USA)

    Johnson was a star at Exeter, where she shone with his incredible speed of work in freedom. As one of Chiefs' remaining foreign players from the club's debut season in the women's top flight three years ago, she has repeatedly distinguished herself as one of the league's most incisive strikers.

    23 – Gwen Pearce (Bristol and Wales)< p>He was once a full-time sheepdog trainer and is now an avid rugby player. Pearce has taken the most carries of any front rower in this year's Six Nations and continues to cement her role as the commanding goofball. The concern is whether she will be able to get enough time at Bristol, which currently boasts a talented front row of players, as she tries to fine-tune other areas of her game.

    22 – Jade Konkel-Roberts (Harlequins and Scotland)< p>A skilled firefighter who can set any backpack on fire with his ability to break balls. Unfortunately, the Harlequins captain is unlikely to feature in next year's Six Nations after suffering an ankle ligament injury in the PWR last month, which was a huge blow for the London club.

    21 – Evie Gallagher (Bristol and Scotland)

    Her electric lock of blue-dyed hair reflects her destructiveness. Another former Worcester player now clinging to life at Bristol, Gallagher is a deceptively strong tackler and has improved her poaching skills during the break. Her memorable performance against the USA at the WXV suggests she will be a vital player for Scotland as they bid to qualify for the 2025 World Cup.

    20 – Meg Jones (Leicester Tigers and England)

    Jones has it all, including the deadliest goose step in the women's game. She proves to be a valuable asset in a Leicester team struggling to adapt to the rigors of top-flight rugby. Her attacking instincts are next level.

    England's Meg Jones impressed in a struggling Leicester team Photo: David Rodgers /Getty Images 19 – Lleuku George (Gloucester-Hartpury and Wales)

    There can sometimes be an aversion to playing in the women's game but George, an unconventional midfielder who has been biding her time at international level, is bucking that tendency. Her off-hand kicking and kicking range have made her an outstanding competitor in the PWR.

    18 – Abby Dow (Ealing Trailfinders and England)

    Widely considered one of the deadliest backs in the women's game. Dow has already scored several overall world champions in the PWR this season, where she has played an important role in an inexperienced Trailfinders team, and her four tries against Italy in the Six Nations proved she is back to her best after suffering a horrific leg break. almost two years ago.

    17 – Lark Atkin-Davies (Bristol Bears and England)

    The creator of the Red Roses lineout maul, Atkin-Davies has established herself as one of the best hookers in women's football. An excellent threat from close range, her scoring output over the past two seasons has eclipsed that of most defenders. Unsurprisingly, she was the second highest scorer in the WXV behind Sophie de Goede.

    16 – Alex Matthews (Gloucester Hartpury and England)

    Belongs to an elite tribe of players who have never had a bad game for their country. Matthews was a standout player in England's WXV final against the Black Ferns. Known for her amazing work rate, she is also the epitome of calm in tense situations.

    15 – Bea Rigoni (Sale Sharks and Italy)

    Italian playmaker Rigoni has already brought attacking flair and flair to England's top flight since joining Sale from Valsugana Rugby Padua. The versatile center made an immediate impact for the Sharks, inspiring Sale to a historic first win over Harlequins when she intercepted the ball on halfway and earned a fine individual goal.

    14 – Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning & England)

    Even though England won the WXV, Kabei's absence was felt at times in New Zealand. Her performance in front of a record crowd of 58,498 at Twickenham against France earlier this year showed she is a real star of the future. The sky's the limit – Kabeya has the potential to become England's all-time best flanker.

    13 – Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning & Scotland)

    With her blistering footwork and blistering pace, Rollie slices through defenses like her favorite cake. Some might argue that her try numbers aren't as high as they should be, but her well-balanced running will lift the spirits of any team. Her slalom blitz down the wing against Wales in this year's Six Nations was a dream and has helped Loughborough's defenders shine this season.

    12 – Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs and England)

    It's strange to think that the RFU left her unemployed 18 months ago with a career-threatening neck injury and applied for a full-time job outside of rugby. Previously a hybrid nine, she has spent the last year developing into a devastating striker who prides herself on dodging tackles and making sensational line breaks.

    11 – Holly Aitchison (Saracens and England)

    England's Best Midfielder has matured seriously in the post-Simon Middleton era and sprinkled some stardust on England's once predictable attack. Although her performance has improved immeasurably, she has yet to fully make her mark at Bristol. With Zoe Harrison recovering from a serious knee injury, expect to retire the England number 10 jersey under new head coach John Mitchell.

    10 – DaLeaka Menin (Exeter Chiefs & Canada)

    Powerful, the incredibly mobile Canadian powerhouse is capable of disrupting the order and has the ability to penetrate well-drilled defences. If only the Canadian Rugby Union had enough resources to turn its women players into professionals. If they did, Menin would become an even more formidable prospect on the pitch.

    9 – Georgia Evans (Saracens and Wales)

    A true workhorse on the park, Evans has returned stronger from a horrific arm fracture in 2021. There are few more destructive players and better tacklers than the hard-working second row, who posted a 96 per cent tackle success rate in this year's Six Nations, bested only by Marley Packer. There's rarely a bad day at the office.

    8 – Poppy Leitch (Exeter Chiefs)

    One of two players on this list who have not played international rugby this year. A fierce tackler, Leitch became the beating heart of Exeter and established herself as the lineout queen. The 26-year-old has built a reputation for ruck-breaking ability and it's crazy to think she hasn't featured for England since 2019. It's time to recall the Red Roses.

    7 – Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester Hartpury and England). )

    It would be rude not to include Miss Rugby Consistency in this list. Aldcroft, a line-out presence and shrewd player, was used to doing all the unglamorous work and had no problem moving up to number 8 after Sarah Hunter's departure.

    Zoe Aldcroft starred in Gloucester-Hartpury and the England team this year. Photo: Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images 6 – Kate Zachary (Ealing Trailfinders and USA)

    There's a reason why Zachary has played more minutes in England's top flight than anyone else this year (1,458, equivalent to 24 hours). A versatile striker who runs like a locomotive, Zachary can play as a number 8 or outside center and has played a calming role in an inexperienced Trailfinders side since his move from Exeter.

    5 – Ellie Kildunn (Harlequins and England) )< p>A coach's dream. The Harlequins flyer has always been an elusive playmaker who terrorizes defenses – she has the highest number of defenders beaten in PWR this year – but has taken other areas of her game to the next level in 2023, particularly her ability to excel in the game. contact zone. Playing some of the best rugby of his career.

    4 Mo Hunt (Gloucester Hartpury and England)

    The perfect advertisement for resilience. Hunt's magical performances inspired Gloucester-Hartpury to their first PWR title earlier this year. She finished 2023 on a high after being handed a central contract with the RFU and there is no reason why the veteran scrum-half can't aim for a home World Cup in 2025.

    3 – Sophie de Goede (Saracens and Canada)

    The Canadian No.8 has made huge strides since joining Saracens for the second time last summer. A ferocious player blessed with natural athleticism, de Goede belongs to an incredibly rare breed of striker who can score goals, and he has helped the Londoners make a number of vital conversions this season. Human can opener in the shape of a rugby player.

    2 – Marley Packer (Saracens and England)

    2023 was a stellar year for the Red Roses captain, winning his fourth consecutive England Six Nations title and winning his first WXV trophy in the autumn. A world-class flanker and excellent off-loader, Packer sets the standard for his club and country, while also being an outspoken critic of the lack of coverage of the women's game on television.

    Marley Packer was man of the match when England beat New Zealand 33-12 in November. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images 1 – Sarah Byrne (Bristol Bears and England)

    Is she getting faster? Byrne's furious runs make her the most feared player in women's rugby. A very fast prop that bulldozes players for fun. She has taken more carries (234) than any other PWR player this year and ranks fifth (behind the team's four defensive backs) in the standings in defenders hit. Irreplaceably brilliant.

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