World Rugby has announced that the pioneers who organized the first Women’s Rugby World Cup and recent stars of the game will be celebrated at a special World Rugby Hall of Fame presented by TUDOR induction in New Zealand in November.
Among them is USA Eagle legend, Kathy Flores, a trailblazer in the game of rugby and women's sports. Flores lost her battle with cancer in 2021 and will be celebrated by USA Rugby, the US Women's Rugby Foundation and greater rugby community as one this November.
USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young said, "On behalf of USA Rugby, I am honored to join our community in celebrating the news of Kathy's induction to the World Rugby Hall of Fame. The influence Kathy had as a player, coach and administrator across so many levels of the game is unparalleled and we're pleased to know her dedication will be enshrined forever."
Five additional legends will be inducted alongside Flores, including Deborah Griffin (England), Sue Dorrington (England), Alice D. Cooper (England), Mary Forsyth (England) and Fiao’o Fa’amausili (New Zealand) will be honoured at the Rugby World Cup 2021 semi-finals at Eden Park on November 5, 2022.
The World Rugby Hall of Fame presented by TUDOR recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game of rugby throughout their careers, while also demonstrating rugby’s character-building values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect.
While Kathy Flores will be inducted posthumously, Griffin, Dorrington, Cooper, Forsyth and Fa’amausili will attend the private capping ceremony before they are presented to the Eden Park crowd between the two semi-finals. Representatives of Kathy's rugby family will be in attendace to accept on her behalf.
In a Rugby World Cup year, the theme selected for Hall of Fame inductees in 2022 is women in rugby with Griffin, Dorrington, Cooper and Forsyth the four pioneers who were the driving force behind the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup in Wales in 1991. Flores was another pioneer, both as a player and coach having been part of the USA team that won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1991 and later coached the team to two tournaments. Fa’amausili, the youngest of the six inductees, played in five Rugby World Cups for New Zealand, winning four of them – the last as captain at the 2017 edition in Ireland. The former hooker was the most-capped Black Ferns player until passed by former team-mate Kendra Cocksedge this year. The six inductees bring the total in the Hall of Fame to 160 since it began in 2006.
World Rugby Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Sir Bill Beaumont said: “It will be particularly special this year to honour those who have made an enormous contribution to the growth of the women’s game as pioneers and inspirers.
“From those who challenged the establishment to launch the first women’s Rugby World Cup, to Kathy Flores, a pioneering driving force behind the growth of the women’s game in the USA, and a five-time Rugby World Cup participant, world champion and game legend Fiao’o Fa’amausili. All have made a significant contribution to the history of our sport and, it is with their pioneering spirit that we will accelerate the profile, growth and impact of women in rugby worldwide.”
Fellow World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee and Chairman of the Hall of Fame panel John Eales said: “It is so important to recognise the contribution of those who have elevated women’s rugby to where it is today. Today, the World Rugby Hall of Fame celebrates the contribution of some true rugby pioneers and some of the greatest players in the history of the women’s Rugby World Cup. Congratulations and thank you to these special women.”
For more information on the World Rugby Hall of Fame, visit www.world.rugby/halloffame.
World Rugby Hall of Fame 2022 inductees
No.155 – Deborah Griffin (England)
No.156 – Sue Dorrington (England)
No.157 – Alice D. Cooper (England)
No.158 – Mary Forsyth (England)
No.159 – Kathy Flores (USA)
No.160 – Fiao’o Fa’amausili (New Zealand)
Kathy Flores (USA)
Born: 7 February, 1955 in Philadelphia, USA
Died: 21 October, 2021 in Rhode Island, USA
Kathy Flores was a gifted player and pioneering coach who gave so much to the game of rugby in the United States.
Flores started playing rugby as a 23-year-old at Florida State University in 1978 and soon became a staunch advocate for women in an otherwise male-dominated sport as well as excelling on the pitch in her own right as a number eight.
Flores captained USA in their first-ever test against Canada in November 1987, scoring a try in the 22-3 win and remained synonymous with rugby throughout the next four decades until her passing at the age of 66.
Flores was a member of the Women’s Eagles team that defeated England 19-6 in the final of the inaugural women’s Rugby World Cup in Cardiff and featured in the second Rugby World Cup three years later, appearing at flanker and hooker.
Despite retiring as a player in 1998, Flores’ relationship with the Rugby World Cup did not end there, as she also coached the Women Eagles to fifth-place finishes at the 2006 and 2010 tournaments. She was the first woman and the first woman of color to lead a national team.
Flores made the same transition from player to coach with the Berkeley All-Blues, the Californian club with whom she won 11 national championships from 1994-2010. In 2014 she assumed the head coaching position at Brown University, one of the first varsity programs in the United States. Kathy passed in Providence, RI after a year-long battle with cancer in October 2021.
Kathy is most well-known as a beloved teammate, coach, mentor, and friend, and as a fierce advocate for women's equity and access to rugby. Her vision was the spark for the founding of the U.S. Women's Rugby Foundation (USWRF) and upon her death, she bequeathed her name and memorabilia to the USWRF. The USWRF started the Kathy Flores Memorial Fund in 2022 to continue Kathy’s career work and wishes to improve opportunities for women in the game. For more info see: www.uswrf.org/floresfund