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Paris 2024 swansong for Woodman-Wickliffe

Portia Woodman-Wickliffe Black Ferns rugby
Decorated Black Ferns sevens and XVs star Portia Woodman-Wickliffe will pull on the black jersey for the last time in Paris. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the most recognisable and decorated players in women's rugby, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, announced on Tuesday she will retire from international play after the Paris Olympics. 


A fan-favourite, Woodman-Wickliffe has been a star of both the sevens and XVs game for more than a decade, having an impact on and off the field. 


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Starting as a professional netballer, Woodman-Wickliffe was introduced to rugby through the Go4Gold programme and was part of the first Black Ferns Sevens team to play on the Women's World Series in 2012. 


A two-time Women's Rugby World Cup winner in 2017 and 2022, a Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens winner in 2013 and 2018, Olympic gold and silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medallist are just a few of the on-field accolades the 32-year-old has to her name.  


A record holder in both games, Woodman-Wickliffe has scored the most tries in Women's Rugby World Cups, with 20, most tries in a Black Ferns test, with eight, and most tries in Women's Sevens Series history, with 256. 



She was recognised by World Rugby as Women's Sevens Player of the Year in 2015, Women’s Player of the Year (XVs) in 2017 and was named as the top women’s sevens player of the past decade in 2020. 


In a social media post, Woodman-Wickliffe reflected on her time in the black jersey. 


“After 12 incredible years representing New Zealand in sevens and 15s, the upcoming Paris Olympics will be my last time playing in the black jersey. 


“Rugby has provided me more than a career, it’s given me a second whānau in my sisters, opportunities to see the world and experience things I never would have otherwise. One last dance with my sisters in Paris,” said Woodman-Wickliffe. 



New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said it was impossible to measure the impact Woodman-Wickliffe had on rugby.


"She is a once in a generation player who reached the pinnacle on the field, on multiple occasions, and off the field has helped to grow the women’s game across the globe, where she is an incredible ambassador and represents everything great about our sport. 


“Within New Zealand Rugby, we talk a lot about winning with mana and Portia certainly personifies that.”



Black Ferns Sevens coach Cory Sweeney remarked on the influence Woodman-Wickliffe has had on the game.


“It's been a real privilege to be part of Portia’s journey over the past eight years, watching her dominate and influence the game makes me feel incredibly prod. Shes will be hugely missed but there is one more huge opportunity for her to go out there and to deepen the legacy she will leave behind,” said Sweeney. 


Woodman-Wickliffe will don the black jersey for the last time in Paris, her third appearance at an Olympic Games. The women's tournament will be held from July 28-30 at Stade de France.


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