Marlie Packer: The Red Roses’ world-class captain

England's Marlie Packer on April 2, 2023

Marlie Packer, the Red Roses’ world-class back row/flanker, is part of the WXV 1 roster for England. The 5’5’ back row/flanker has played a big role with the national team. The player, born in Yeovil, Somerset, England, is 34 years old, and won the 2014 Rugby Women’s World Cup thanks to a final win over Canada.

Marlie Packer: The Red Roses’ back-row/flanker


Marlie Packer grew up in a single parent household and her mother had a big influence on her life (source: Rugby World Cup):

“My mum was a single mom growing up and all the work, parents today, taking their child to, so I didn’t just play rugby, I played football (soccer in North America), I played after school clubs, for her to get me to one another, and like my brother as well, I take my hat off to her.”

She would also say in that same interview, the two role models in her life (source: Rugby World Cup):

“Yeah, definitely my mum and my grandad. I think those two figures in my life.”

Growing up, Packer played for the Ivel Barbarians (now called the Yeovil Rugby Club), a team she was with from 1994-07. This is what she said about it (source: England Rugby):

“I used to go to church a lot with my grandparents every weekend on a Sunday but that soon changed and it was rugby every Sunday,” said the 30-year-old. “When I go back to Yeovil and go up there, they always remind me of being that nagging little teenager who wanted money off them.”

Senior club career (2009-17)

After that, Packer started playing for Bath from 2007-09, Bristol from 2009-13, Wasps from 2013-16, and Bristol from 2016-17. However, what might be most known about Packer is her time with the Saracens, a team she has been with since 2017.

Saracens (2017-Present)

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Packer has been with the Saracens since 2017, she has co-captained the team along with Lotte Clapp since 2022. She had 11 tries in the 2020-21 Premier 15s season and playoffs, including two tries in the final in a losing effort against the Harlequins Women’s team.

Combined she scored 17 tries in the 2021-22 Premier 15s season and playoffs, including two key tries in a 43-21 win over the Exeter Chiefs. She also scored 14 tries in the recent 2022-23 Premier 15s season and playoffs combined and was part of the Team of the Season as a flanker. This is what Packer said about that try that helped Saracens win the game on November 27, 2021 against the Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s team (source: Sarries TV):

“We’re about to lose a game and then suddenly we had a scrum in their 22. I can’t remember how the scrum came about but I know I chose I said no we’re going to scrum here and all I could think was we need to score. I’m not leaving this place with a loss we I take a draw and I didn’t think I’d ever say that in a rugby match I’ll take a draw but this day I would have taken a draw and uh I don’t really know how but I actually scored the try.”

Zoe Harrison would then secure the win with a conversion on Packers’ try being converted and a penalty also being converted in the 80+1-minute of play.

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England Rugby (2008-Present)

Packer has a long and distinguished career with England Rugby. She scored four tries in the 2014 Rugby World Cup, which included two tries against Ireland that allowed England to make the final. The Red Roses would then win their first and so far, only Rugby World Cup win after defeating the Canadians in the final.

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She also scored five tries in the knockout stages of the 2021 Rugby World Cup, including three against Australia and the first try of the game against Canada. Overall, Packer had six tries in the tournament, which has her tied for second with Canada’s Emily Tuttosi and her teammate, Amy Cokayne.

Packer also had an extremely successful 2023 Women’s Six Nations Championship, where she was both the top points scorer and also the top try scorer of the tournament. In that same tournament, England was the champions, grand slam, and triple crown winners as they won all five of their games. This included scoring three tries in nine minutes against Scotland on March 25, 2023, a game the Red Roses would win by a scoreline of 58-7.

Importance of Marlie Packer with the national team

Packer is England’s all-time top forwards try-scorer for the team. She is also depended on a lot by the national team. This is what Simon Middleton, head coach of the Red Roses, said about her (source: Saracens):

“She’s everything a Red Rose should be – tough, committed to the shirt, selfless in how she goes about everything she does.”

Middleton also was the one who made Packer captain of the Red Roses last year. This is what he said about making Packer captain of the team (source: Sky Sports):

“It’s the way she leads in everything she does in terms of the team, whether it’s on the field or whether it’s energising the group,” Middleton said. “She’s part of the strategy group, so that fits into the selection.”

Packer will look to continue that importance with the national team as they get ready to play their final game in the WXV 1 tournament.

Games coming up

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The last game of the WXV 1 tournament will be a rematch of the 2021 Rugby World Cup Final between England and New Zealand. Fans can watch that game at 6:00 AM GMT on November 4 at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. According to WXV Rugby, fans can watch the England games on ITV X/S4C.


Photo Credit: Catherine Ivill – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images of Saracens Women’s Rugby Facebook Page on April 4, 2023.