Leeds University Alumna Jodie Cunningham has been inducted into the University’s Sporting Hall of Fame.

Jodie was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Sports Scholars Award Evening held on 13 February. This is an event which celebrates the successes of all our scholars who have been awarded a scholarship for the upcoming year.

Jodie Cunningham speaking at Hall of fame presentation evening

Jodie’s Achievements

Jodie, graduated from the University of Leeds in 2013 with a degree in Medical Sciences is an England Rugby League player. She is one of the Women’s Super-League’s most recognisable stars and a huge advocate for women’s sport and equality in the UK.

Her rugby journey began at school, and whilst attending sixth form she was first selected to play for England, making her debut back in 2009. She then attended The University of Leeds. During her time at University, she once again represented England at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and was a member of the team that won the Challenge Cup in four successive seasons from 2013 to 2016.

Jodie was vice-captain of the England squad in the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup. In March 2018, became a member of the newly formed St Helens women’s team and was named captain for the 2019 season where she picked up St Helens Women’s Player of the Year. In 2019 Jodie was appointed captain of St Helens and she led the side to the first treble since the creation of the Women’s Super League in 2021.

Jodie backed up the award in 2021 when she was also named the 2021 Woman of Steel as she led St Helens to the League Leaders’ Shield, Challenge Cup, and Super League trophies as captain in a historic unbeaten campaign.

Off the pitch, Jodie works as the RFL’s National Women & Girls Development Manager. This follows her work as Community Engagement Lead for the recent Rugby League World Cup 2021 where she was also the women’s ambassador for the tournament and a member of the England Women’s squad.

Jodie Cunningham speaking at Hall of fame presentation evening

Head of Sport, Suzanne Glavin said;

We are delighted to induct Jodie into our Sporting Hall of Fame which recognises outstanding University of Leeds alumni who have contributed significantly to sport. She is inspirational in her sporting achievements on the pitch having recently competed again  for England in the Womens’ RFL  World Cup. She is also a skilful and articulate ambassador for women in sport.

If you are ever lucky enough to spend some time with her , you will not fail to notice her ethos of hard work, continuous development and care for her fellow team and community. She is a credit to our University and on behalf of us all at the University of Leeds.

We wish her well in her efforts to make the next England Women’s RFL World Cup alongside her professional role of  developing opportunities for more people be active through playing the sport she dearly loves.


Past Hall of Famers

You can look at the full Sporting Hall of Fame by visiting The Edge. You can read more about Jodie and all our other Hall of Fame recipients, who include:

  • Johnny Mowlem, Geography and Spanish 1998, Racing Car Driver
  • Rebecca Gallantree, Sports Science 2005, Great Britain diver.
  • Carol Isherwood OBE, History 1982 and PGCE Education 1984. Great Britain rugby union player and founder of the Rugby Football Union for Women.
  • Andrew Shovlin, Mechanical Engineering 1995 and PhD in Mechanical Engineering 1999, Formula 1 Chief race engineer.
  • Ray French MBE, General Studies 1961, England rugby union and rugby league player, rugby league commentator.
  • Giles Long MBE, Geology 1997, three time Paralympic swimming champion
  • Simon Mason, Economics 1994, Great Britain hockey player and vice president of England Hockey
  • Natalie Haythorthwaite, Linguistics and Phonetics, 2014, England Netball player
  • Mark England, Economic History, 1981, Chef de Mission Team GB

Find out more about Jodie by following her on Instagram; @jodiecunningham91.