A former Horsham schoolgirl was crowned a world champion as England lifted the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris on Sunday.
Becky Essex, 31, was part of the England squad which achieved their first tournament success since 1994.
The former Chesworth, Millais and Collyer’s pupil featured from the bench in the final at the Stade Jean-Bouin as they beat Canada 21-9.
Essex, who started her rugby career at Horsham Rugby Club as a mini, was also a used replacement in their 40-7 semi-final win over Ireland, after starting two of their three group games.
Essex’s parents still live in Horsham and her brother Nick has represented Horsham RUFC this season.
The Richmond lock/flanker who has more than 50 England caps started in their 45-5 win over Spain, 13-13 draw with Canada which saw them top Pool A on points difference as well as being a replacement in their 65-3 demolition of Samoa.
She got her first taste of World Cup rugby in 2010 and played a part in all five of England’s games including a 13-10 final defeat against New Zealand.
England head coach Gary Street said: “It feels a bit like a dream, it’s quite surreal and I think I’ll wake up in a minute.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling and we’re just so proud of everyone involved – it’s a really special group, we’ve been on a long journey but to have that trophy makes it worthwhile.
“The support we’ve had has been amazing and it’s a huge relief to be able to deliver. Huge credit to Canada as well – I thought that they were excellent and made it extremely tough for us.”