Williams and Alphonsi awarded MBEs
June 16, 2012
Former Wales winger Shane Williams is set to extend his playing career in Japan © Getty Images
Wales' Shane Williams and England Women's rugby star Maggie Alphonsi have been awarded MBEs in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Williams announced his retirement from the sport recently, only to overturn his decision and opt to play in Japan for six months. The winger finished his international career in December 2011 as Wales' top try-scorer but was surprised to receive the honour.
"I have been lucky enough to have had a fantastic career and what a great way to finish," Williams said. "I am very humbled by the fact I am being regarded in this way - I never thought I would receive an honour such as this and it is a fantastic end to my career."
Alphonsi is one of the most well-known names in women's rugby and has been at the forefront of England's success in recent times. She was a key part of England's charge to the Women's Rugby World Cup final in 2010 and was part of the England team that defeated New Zealand in a historic three-Test series last autumn.
"I'm so pleased to have been given this great honour by HRH, the Queen," Alphonsi said. "What makes this honour so special is that it does not just recognise my own personal achievements but that of the England team - I wouldn't have received this had it not been for the hard work and dedication of the RFUW, the RFU and my England teammates.
"The remarkable work and achievements of the England Women's squad over the past six years has been fantastic, and to have been a part of that has been incredible. I certainly have to thank all the people who have supported me along the way."
Exeter Chiefs chairman Tony Rowe was also honoured with an OBE. "I feel very humbled to have been given this honour," Rowe said. "Initially when I received the letter from the cabinet office, I thought to myself what I have done wrong now. However, when I opened it up and saw the news I was initially shocked and could not believe it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker