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Meet Phaidra Knight: free radical flanker in World Rugby Hall of Fame

Former USA forward with a remarkable tale talks about her journey into rugby nobility and the sport’s power to unite people and change lives

Phaidra Knight learned of her election to the World Rugby Hall of Fame in an email from the Australian great John Eales. Another World Cup-winning captain, François Pienaar of South Africa, sent his own congratulations. She will be inducted on Friday in Rugby. With her will be the fly-half Rob Andrew and French lock Fabien Pelous, the Argentina No10 Felipe Contepomi and another hard-hitting North American flanker, Al Charron of Canada. At 43 and after an 18-year career that took her to 35 caps for the USA and three World Cups, Knight is a member of rugby’s nobility.

Not that many know it in her adopted city, New York, or in the US at large. Rugby union is growing in America but no one in the Upper West Side cafe where we meet raises an eyebrow as Knight walks in, apologises for being held up in crosstown traffic and orders an appropriately complicated coffee. If they knew her story, they might.

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