Maggie Alphonsi is known as one of the most ferocious tacklers the game has ever seen and the seven-time Women’s Six Nations winner has revealed how she even once laid a big hit on future England men’s captain Owen Farrell.
Alphonsi has been offering her expert insight to sixnationsrugby.com throughout the 2021 Championship in her role as a Women’s Six Nations ambassador but back in her playing days, she taught Farrell a lesson he wouldn’t forget.
Speaking on the latest episode of the RugbyPass Offload podcast, the 37-year-old revealed that she sometimes trained with the Saracens men’s academy side, which included future internationals such as Jamie George, George Kruis and a certain Owen Farrell.
In one particular session, Alphonsi had the opportunity to stop Farrell in his tracks – in front of future England coach Eddie Jones no less – and that wasn’t a prospect she was about to pass up.
“At the time, Owen Farrell had his Justin Bieber quiff,” laughed Alphonsi. “I remember one session I attended – Eddie Jones was the Saracens director of rugby at the time and every now and again he would do a session with the academy boys.
“This one random day, he took the session and they asked if it was ok for me to join as normal and Eddie said that was fine, as long as I did everything the academy boys would be doing – tackling or whatever it might be.
“If I didn’t want to do it, then I could go. That was fine by me, I was ready to do this!
“We were doing a game scenario, five versus three, and all Owen had to do was pass the ball down the line but instead he saw me and was definitely targeting me.
“I thought ‘I can’t not tackle him, that will be bad for my reputation’, so I made a hit on him – some people might say I took him right back and dunked him a bit!
“Let’s just say, I made an effective tackle that stopped him in his tracks.
“Andy Farrell was one of the coaches there, Owen’s dad, and I remember him and a few of the other coaches in the corner being like ‘oh my god – she’s just tackled him!’.
“That’s one of the moments that will live forever in my head but maybe in his it has completely gone.
“From what I remember, he was a good sport and said ‘good tackle’. It’s a story I will tell my grandkids!”
Alphonsi’s story serves as a useful reminder to all professional rugby players – if you’ve got the opportunity to go into contact with a seven-time Championship winner or shift the ball wide in a training session, always shift the ball wide…