An English rugby player who has enjoyed significant success in the game, Leanne Riley inspires young people and aspiring rugby players to follow her lead. Often speaking openly about her plans for the expansion of the women's game, Riley says: "I hope in two years women’s rugby will be fully professional".
Since working her way through the shorter formats of the game, Riley has played for Harlequins as a scrum-half, as well as become a key member of the England team.
In 2012, Riley played as England won the 2012 Hong Kong Women's Sevens. This was in the midst of a successful era for English rugby which has continued into the modern-day. In 2017, after England successful retained the Six Nations Championship winning the Grand Slam, she was included in England's 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup squad. This was the first time the World Cup was broadcast on ITV, and one of the first occasions the women's game gained mainstream media coverage overall.
England would go all the way to the final of the tournament, winning a silver medal. After finishing as runners-up in the World Cup, Riley made further international appearances and was part of the England team that won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2019, amidst record crowds at Sandy Park, Exeter and London's famous home of English rugby, Twickenham.
Outside of playing, Riley is central to raising awareness of the women's game and encouraging school children and students to pursue rugby. She is an ambassador for the Harlequins' Switch initiative and the Lions Sports Academy which sees her encourage participation in the sport, as well as coach young people. She says: “It’s down to schools. If you give girls a chance to try rugby young, the more likely they are to want to continue playing it."
Having taken up the sport herself at the age of 10, Riley worked her way through junior teams before impressing Saracens Women in 2013. She has since moved to Richmond Women and Aylesford Bulls Ladies, before moving to Harlequins Ladies in 2017, where her career for club and country really approached new heights.
Inspired by rugby hall of famer, Maggie Alphonsi who she played within her time at Saracens and England, Riley grew a passion for the game, employing themes of her compatriot's playing style, including her ferociousness in the tackle.
A technical ballplayer who has become one of the game's top players, Riley is ideal as the motivational speaker for schools, charities and corporations at all manner of events.