Waterman retires from international rugby

  • Waterman to retire from England duty
  • She won 82 caps over a 15-year career
  • Nolli nominated for England player of the year - here

Red Roses back Danielle Waterman has announced her retirement from international rugby with immediate effect at the age of 33.

The Wasps Ladies FC full back retires at sixth on the all-time list of England Women’s appearances with her 82 caps, while she is one of the leading try scorers as she has crossed 47 times.

She made her Test debut at the age of 18 in 2003, England’s youngest ever player at the time, and went on to feature in four Women’s Rugby World Cups, was a try-scorer in the 2014 World Cup win and also played sevens for Team GB at the 2016 Olympic games. "She is the ultimate England player."

Waterman, who has also played for Team Northumbria, Henley, Worcester and Bristol during her career, will carry on playing club rugby at Wasps next season in the Tyrrells Premier 15s.

“It has been an incredible journey and a true honour to be a Red Rose for the past 15 years," she said. "It's been a huge privilege to have not only played alongside and against some of the best players in the world, but to have been part of the huge development and progression of women's international rugby.

“I have made life long friends through playing for my country and the time spent with my teams mates through the highs and the lows are the moments I will miss the most.

England Women head coach Simon Middleton said: “What I would say about Nolli is she is the ultimate England player.

“When you put an England shirt on you’ve got to play with everything you’ve got. She’s incredibly skilful, incredibly athletic but more than anything she’s probably the bravest player I’ve ever seen on a rugby field.

“Some of the tackles she’s made and some of the tries she’s scored will live forever in my memory as a coach. It’s been a pleasure working with her. She’s been an absolute inspiration to coach and she’s an inspiration for anybody that’s watched her play. She’s what an England player should be.”


Waterman first joined up with the England academy at 15 where she met a 19-year-old Rochelle Clark, a friendship and career that has lasted 18 years.

She made her debut against Ireland at Thomond Park, coming on as a replacement at scrum half, a position she started her career in before stints at wing and then making the full back shirt her own for England.

“I remember we were winning by quite a few points in Ireland, and it looked so fast from the touchline,” she said.

“I got put on with seven minutes to go at a lineout. I was so nervous I didn't hear the call and nearly missed where I needed to be to receive the ball. I guessed well and got my first pass away, but the rest of the game was a bit of a blur as it felt like the fastest rugby I had ever played.”

“Although I was quite a lot younger than the rest of the team, I was always looked after and supported both on and off the field. I had some fantastic role models to learn from, and players like Jo Yapp and Helen Clayton showed me the dedication and commitment it took to be a true Red Rose."

Dancing feet

With her father Jim Waterman, also a full back, playing over 400 games for Bath Rugby, rugby was a huge part of Waterman’s life growing up.

Both her dad and mum coached her at various points and she says her mum’s motto of ‘there’s no such word as can’t’ rang throughout her childhood, especially when she was the only girl playing at the local rugby club.

Her side-stepping, mesmeric feet caused the best defences problems throughout her career, so has this been down to family coaching?

“Being shown how to do it by my dad as young as four at the rugby club, but also I have a lot to thank my two older brothers for as we would play one-on-one in the garden every moment that we could,” she added.

“If I wanted to play with them I had to be good enough so with full contact, I had to learn to avoid them early doors. Being a smaller player throughout my career it’s held me in good stead.”


Although she has won a World Cup and only lost one game Six Nations game during her career, against France earlier this year, Waterman has a very different memory to look back on as a high – returning from six reconstruction surgeries.

“Coming back from my most recent knee injury I was told I probably wouldn’t play again.

“It was a huge amount of work from me, commitment from the medical team, the strength and conditioning coaches and also the support from the coaches and my team mate to get me back on the field - to pull on the white shirt again after that injury was something very special.”

When pushed for something on the pitch there were a few moments that standout.

“Winning the World Cup in 2014 was definitely a dream come true", she added. "To beat New Zealand for the first time in 16 years and go world number one and to do it with the support of the Lions crowd was amazing.

“Playing in a home World Cup in 2010 too. Although it was heartbreaking to lose in the final that was the first time that I really felt that women’s rugby had been recognised by the media and the support - full stadiums packed with England fans signing swing low was just incredible.”