Jodie Cunningham hits major milestone as England team-mate announces international retirement in Wales victory

Ben Olawumi
Jodie Cunningham, England, Wales

Jodie Cunningham in action for England against Wales at Headingley - Alamy

St Helens star Jodie Cunningham rounded off a remarkable year as she captained England to a 60-0 win over Wales on her 30th appearance, while Vicky Molyneux announced her retirement from the international game.

Forward Cunningham became the first-ever female to lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley in August as Saints beat Leeds Rhinos in a historic showdown under the arch.

Today, the Warrington-born 31-year-old became just the second player in history to reach 30 appearances for England’s women, who are now headed up by Stuart Barrow. Only long-time pal Emily Rudge, who now plays alongside her for both Saints & England, has more appearances for the national side to her name.

Having beaten France 64-0 mid-season in his first game in charge, England are still yet to concede a single point during the Barrow era following today’s big win.

Amy Hardcastle (2), Shona Hoyle, Caitlin Beevers, Tara-Jane Stanley (2), debutant Lacey Owen, Georgia Roche, Tamzin Renouf, Keara Bennett & Cunningham’s old classmate Rudge all crossed for tries at Headingley. York’s Stanley – who recently signed a first professional contract – meanwhile kicked eight from 11 (circa 73%) with the boot.

Vicky Molyneux announces international retirement

Elsewhere in the England camp, back-rower Vicky Molyneux announced pre-match that she would retire from the international game following the home nations clash.

The 35-year-old Wigan Warriors ace made her England debut in 2007 at the age of 19 in the nation’s first-ever fixture. She is the last member of that squad to hang her international boots up, but unofficially did so once already, spending a mammoth 14 years away from the international stage oncemore to focus on her family and career.

Molyneux made her England return in 2021 against Wales, the same opponents as she faced today, named vice captain ahead of the Headingley face-off.

After becoming the first woman to ever be named in Wigan’s Hall of Fame a few weeks back, today wasn’t quite the perfect ending to her England career, sin-binned in the first half for a high shot on Wales’ Brogan Evans.

Nonetheless, reflecting on her decision, the Rochdale-born star said: “This has been a really difficult decision to call time on my international career, but I know this is the right choice.

“I absolutely love this group of players and I know that I am going to be going out on a high with nothing but love and respect for the team around me.”

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