Melissa Ruscoe, who captained New Zealand in both rugby and football, talks to World Rugby about her career and coaching ambitions.
If scaling the summit of high-performance sport is beyond the capabilities of most people on this planet, then achieving that feat in more than one discipline borders on superhuman.
Melissa Ruscoe was a New Zealand international football player, who had captained her country from centre-back, when a team-mate suggested she attend a pre-season training session at a local rugby club in Christchurch.
Ruscoe, who was 23 when she swapped a round ball for an oval one, admits she could “barely walk” following that initial run out. But, in spite of those aches and pains, she was hooked.
She soaked up knowledge about her new sport like a sponge and, as she moved from the wing to the back-row, she excelled. Within five years she had been called up to the Black Ferns squad.
Ruscoe played all five matches as New Zealand won Rugby World Cup 2006. Four years later, in England, she captained the Black Ferns squad that sealed a third successive global triumph.
“Wearing the black jersey or representing your country from whatever country you’re from is a huge honour and privilege,” Ruscoe told World Rugby.
“You grow up, you see your favourite sporting personalities and you think it’s amazing in the Olympics and world champs and that sort of stuff. You think it’s pretty cool, and you’re a bit like ‘wow’.
“But to actually finally get there is, for yourself, pretty special and wearing the jersey once – let alone going to two World Cups – was pretty amazing.”