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Freedom of the borough for women's World Cup winners

Rugby Borough Councillors are to award the Freedom of the Borough to the England Women's rugby team, in recognition of their outstanding achievement in winning the 2014 Rugby World Cup.

A special ceremony to honour the team will be held at Rugby town hall on Wednesday 10 December at 12:30pm, followed by a civic reception.

Whilst in the birthplace of the game the team will unveil a special plaque commemorating their achievement. The plaque will eventually form part of the town's Pathway of Fame, which is due to be refreshed ready for the men's Rugby World Cup 2015. They will also visit The Close at Rugby School - the site where the game of Rugby first began in 1823.

A meet the players event will be held at the Rugby Visitor Centre at 11:45am, when residents will be able to speak to the players and take photographs with the team.

Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: "The England women's rugby team had an outstanding summer, winning the world cup in France against a very strong Canadian team who had already drawn with them earlier in the tournament.

"The development of the women's game has been incredible to watch, culminating in winning the world cup and turning professional earlier this year.

"As the birthplace of the game this is an achievement that we want to recognise and honour, and the highest award that we can give is the Freedom of the Borough of Rugby.

"I am thrilled that the team will be visiting to receive the award, and look forward to following their progress in the run up to the Rio Olympics in 2016."

Gary Street, England Head Coach, said: "The history and heritage of the game is part of its unique character. The team has achieved something very special this year by winning the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 20 years so it is fitting that we will end the year by going back to where the game began in 1823.

"We are delighted that the town has decided to award us the Freedom of the Borough of Rugby and we are looking forward to meeting some of Rugby’s residents and representatives of local women’s rugby teams."

Freedom of the Borough of Rugby is the highest honour that can be awarded by the Borough Council. It is rarely awarded and recognises outstanding achievements or significant contributions to the community. The England men's rugby team were awarded the honour in 2004 following their world cup win the previous autumn.

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