Emily Scarratt admitted to feeling “a bit empty” after England’s women saw their hopes of retaining the Rugby World Cup dashed by New Zealand.
The Black Ferns scored seven tries on their way to a pulsating 41-32 victory in Belfast, landing a fifth world title.
And some of the England squad are now set to lose their professional contracts, with the Rugby Football Union putting an emphasis on sevens for the next two years, although several players will be signed up by Twickenham chiefs to participate for England on the world sevens circuit.
Fresh 15-a-side deals are then set to return ahead of the 2021 World Cup, but Saturday’s defeat at the Kingspan Stadium was possibly a last Red Roses appearance for some senior figures.
“I have hopefully got a few more years left in me yet, and we will see what they hold in terms of sevens, fifteens, or whatever it might be,” said 27-year-old Scarratt, who is among those likely to land a sevens deal and also be involved in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
“But I would certainly like to end my career playing 15s.
“You want to send people out on top.
“I don’t think anyone has announced anything official yet, but whether it is now or in a year’s time, people will be stepping away. Some of our old players won’t go on to do four more years. It is gutting.
“I will go on a holiday somewhere, have a rest, eat a bit too much, drink a bit too much and put my feet up and see what happens when I come back.”
England led 17-10 at half-time in their pursuit of a successful title defence, but the second 40 minutes proved a totally different story as New Zealand dominated.
Prop Toka Natua led the way, scoring a hat-trick of tries, while there were also touchdowns for full-back Selica Winiata (two), lock Charmaine Smith and scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge, with Cocksedge adding three conversions. Wing Lydia Thompson scored two tries for England, in addition to a seven-point penalty try, plus a late Izzy Noel-Smith touchdown, and full-back Scarratt booted two penalties and two conversions.