England’s 1994 world champions: Where are they now?

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1994 Rugby World Cup final

Venue: Edinburgh Academicals

Final Score: 38-23

England tries: Gill Burns, Jacquie Edwards, Jane Mitchell, Penalty Try (2)

Cons: Karen Almond (5)

Pens: Karen Almond

USA tries: Jen Crawford (2), Patty Jarvey, Elise Huffer

Pens: J Bergman

Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland)

England team

1: Jane Mangham 2: Nicky Ponsford 3: Sandy Ewing 4: Sarah Wenn 5: Heather Stirrup 6: Janis Ross (vice-capt) 7: Genevieve Shore 8: Gill Burns 9: Emma Mitchell 10: Karen Almond (capt) 11: Annie Cole 12: Giselle Prangnell 13: Jacquie Edwards 14: Val Blackett 15: Jane Mitchell.

Paula George came off the bench towards the end of the game for Jane Mitchell and Jenny Chambers came on to replace Sarah Wenn. Otherwise, everyone else stayed on for the full game.

USA team

1: Annie Flavin 2: Julie Gray 3: Mary-Anne Sorensen 4: Sheri Hunt 5: Tara Flanagan 6: Jan Rutkowski 7: Laurie Spicer-Bourdon 8: Barbara Bond 9: Patty Connell 10: Jos Bergman 11: Patty Jervey 12: Elise Huffer 13: Candi Orsini 14: Krista McFarren 15: Jen Crawford.

Starting XV

1: Jane Mangham (now Coats), Red Rose number 31

Mangham now calls Edinburgh her home and has been involved in coaching both rugby and football in Scotland. Jane is a qualified teacher but now enjoys life as a teaching assistant.

2: Nicky Ponsford, Red Rose 10

Ponsford moved into the world of rugby governance becoming Head of Women’s Performance at the RFU and launching the now Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) league. Since 2021, she has worked for World Rugby as head of high performance.

3: Sandy Ewing, Red Rose 33

Ewing went to America to play for UCLA Club and the Grizzlies representing California, while also mentoring up and coming front-row players. She returned to New Zealand in 1996 playing for College Rifles and Auckland, before hanging up her boots in 1999.

4: Sarah Wenn, Red Rose 30

Wenn retired from rugby after the World Cup to concentrate on her career in complex construction environments, including projects like the Second Severn Crossing and Heathrow’s Terminal 5. She now works in consultancy.

5: Heather Stirrup, Red Rose 29

Stirrup went on to manage the England squad. She then moved to Vancouver to teach maths and coached rugby at Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia women. She stayed in Canada and has recently retired from teaching.

6: Janis Ross (vice-captain), Red Rose 20

Ross returned to her job as a town planner but continued to play club rugby until 2000. In 2005 she was diagnosed with a genetic cardiomyopathy and had an implantable defibrillator inserted, meaning her sport is now “a bit of social tennis”. Ross worked for the NHS, retiring in 2022 to become an artist.

7: Genevieve Shore, Red Rose 41

Shore has served on the RFU Board of Directors since 2017. In 2022, she was announced as the chair of Women’s Premier 15 Limited, now known as Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR).

8: Gill Burns, Red Rose 23

Burns later took on the England captaincy, and after hanging up her boots was named the first female president of an English rugby club, Waterloo. She became president of the Rugby Football Union for Women for 10 years. Gill continues to store the most comprehensive archive of women’s rugby memorabilia that would otherwise have been lost for future generations.

9: Emma Mitchell, Red Rose 19

Mitchell enjoyed a career in academic publishing but on her retirement from playing rugby coached in the USA, Canada and UK. In 2007 Emma joined the English Institute of Sport as a performance lifestyle coach. Emma and full-back Jane Mitchell are identical twin sisters.

10: Karen Almond (captain), Red Rose 1

After the 1994 World Cup, Almond went on a Saracens tour to New Zealand and gave up her teaching job to stay out there and travel. She eventually made New Zealand her home and got permanent residency.

11: Annie Cole, Red Rose 39

Cole continued playing rugby at Henley until 2007 and then went back to playing hockey. She retrained to be a primary school teacher in 2006 and is now a deputy headteacher in Maidenhead.

12: Giselle Prangnell (now Mather), Red Rose 35

Mather moved into coaching and became the first woman in England achieve the level four coaching award. She coached the London Irish men’s academy before heading up Wasps Women and now leads Ealing Trailfinders Women in the PWR.

13: Jacquie Edwards, Red Rose 37

Edwards went on to work in a variety of roles at the University of Kent. She’s also a singer, performing as Ginger Bennett with her Funk and Soul band Project K and the KD Dance Orchestra.

14: Val Blackett, Red Rose 38

Blackett played at Clifton then Cheltenham before going back to Bristol, where she finished playing at the age of 47. In 2024, she is still hoping to finish the season playing a few games of sevens.

15: Jane Mitchell, Red Rose 25

Mitchell settled in California playing for the Berkeley All Blues alongside some of the US side from the 1994 final. Jane represented the West Coast Grizzly and the USA in 7s. Jane is the identical twin sister to scrum-half Emma.

Replacements

Paula George, Red Rose 49

George went on to captain the team and after retiring moved to New Zealand, working behind the scenes with the All Blacks as a content creator. She now has her own company that tells stories through photography, video and the written word.

Jenny Chambers, Red Rose 40

Chambers served in the army before moving into leisure centre management. She is also a professional horticulturalist lecturing at the Abingdon & Witney College.

Steve Dowling, head coach

A Saracens and Hertfordshire player, Steve worked in education and teacher training. In 2008 he became a lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire before retiring in 2020. The coaching group included “Three Steves”, with Steve Jew and Steve Peters working alongside Carol Isherwood as Dowling’s assistants.

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