Knight retires from international rugby

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The third-most capped Women’s Eagle in history, Phaidra Knight, has announced her retirement from the international game of rugby ahead of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017.

A native of Irwinton, Ga., Knight did not pull on her famous gloves on the rugby field until after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Alabama State University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Speech Communications and Political Science. Experienced on the basketball court from an early age, Knight took a break from sports to pursue a degree at University of Wisconsin School of Law. It was there she learned of the game that would take her to three Women’s Rugby World Cups over the course of an 18-year international career.

“It has been an honor to wear the USA jersey over the past 18 years,” Knight said. “I have evolved tremendously as both a student of the game and life. Nothing is more satisfying than leaving the game in a better place than it was when I arrived.”

Earning her first senior appearance with the Eagles in a defeat of Canada in August of 1999, Knight would go on to represent the U.S. shirt 35 times in the front and back rows. She scored two tries as a prop before a position change to flanker saw her jump over the try line six times prior to her third and final World Cup selection in 2010. Following the Eagles’ fifth-place triumph at the expense of Canada that year, Knight was named “Player of the Decade” by a domestic publication. She had previously been given All-World Team honors for her performances in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and traveled to New Zealand for a game against the dominant Black Ferns with the All-World Team in 2003.

Credit: Paul Rudman / KLC fotos

Away from the Eagles, Knight helped turn New York Rugby Club into a National Championship contender, winning a Division I title with NYRC in 2006 and Women’s Premier League titles in 2009 and 2010. She also served as forwards coach at Princeton University from 2015 to 2016 and as a fitness coach at Columbia University throughout her time in the area, and currently leads Monroe College’s women’s rugby team as head coach.

While a tryout for Team USA’s Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games bobsled team took her away from the National Team in the build up to the 2014 World Cup, Knight found herself in the thick of contention for 2017 selection in a shortened “quadrennial.” She made a substitute appearance in the Eagles’ second Can-Am Series matchup in Chula Vista, Calif., in April for her final cap, but will support further World Cup efforts as a member of NBC’s on-air broadcast team this month.

“I look forward to advancing my ambassadorship of rugby and sport as I expand as a television and media talent,” Knight said. “I am also geared to focus my attention on expanding as an entrepreneur and greater advocate for women’s sports. There is much work to be done in those arenas. It’s time to roll up my sleeves and make a difference.”

Knight’s contributions to the game will continue after having been named to the USA Rugby Board of Directors as an International Athlete Representative earlier this year. Focused on creating a sustainable model for support of women’s athletes and player welfare for international athletes, she will be even more active in the community in promoting the game of rugby.