Rugby Borough Councillors have awarded World Cup winners England Women the Freedom of the Borough, in recognition of their outstanding achievement in winning the 2014 Rugby World Cup in France.
A special ceremony to honour the team has been held today at Rugby Town Hall, followed by a civic reception. Freedom of the Borough of Rugby is the highest honour that can be given by the Borough Council and it recognises outstanding achievements or significant contributions to the community. The England men's rugby team were awarded the honour following their 2003 World Cup win.
While in the birthplace of the game, England Women also unveiled a special plaque commemorating their achievement. The plaque will eventually form part of the town's Pathway of Fame, which is due to be refreshed ready for the men's Rugby World Cup next year. The team also visited The Close at Rugby School - the site where the game of Rugby first began in 1823 - and local residents also got to meet and greet the team.
England Head Coach Gary Street, who was recently named Sport UK Coach of the Year, said: "This team has achieved something very special this year by winning the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 20 years so it is fitting that we will end the year by going back to where the game began in 1823. We are delighted that the town has decided to award us the Freedom of the Borough of Rugby and it has been great meeting some of Rugby's residents."
Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: "The England Women's team had an outstanding summer and the development of the women's game has been incredible to watch, culminating in winning the world cup and turning professional earlier this year.
"This is an achievement that we want to recognise and honour, and the highest award that we can give is the Freedom of the Borough of Rugby. I am thrilled that we have awarded this honour and I look forward to following England's progress in the run up to the Rio Olympics in 2016."