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Historic award for Alphonsi

Maggie Alphonsi became the first female player in the 50-year history of the Rugby Union Writers' Club to be honoured with the prestigious Pat Marshall Memorial Award as personality of the year for 2010.

Alphonsi's inspirational performances for England in the Women's Rugby World Cup, which served to boost the profile of the sport in this country significantly, earned her the accolade ahead of New Zealand captain Richie McCaw and the departing Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter.

The 27-year-old Saracens flanker, a former International Rugby Board player of the year, has won 49 Test caps but shot to national attention with her starring role as England reached the World Cup final at the Twickenham Stoop in September.

New Zealand eventually lifted the title with a 13-10 victory in front of a record crowd but Alphonsi, nicknamed 'Maggie The Machine', had established herself as the most feared defender in the game and arguably the best player in the world.

Alphonsi, who works as a talent identification officer for the RFUW, then became the first female player to be invited onto Sky Sports' rugby coverage as a pundit.

In November she beat Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams to be named the Sunday Times Sportswoman of The Year.

RUWC chairman Paul Morgan said: "In 2010 Maggie Alphonsi made a huge impact on the sport and emerged as one of the game's great ambassadors.

"The fact that she beat Brendan Venter, Richie McCaw and Victor Matfield in the final voting shows the esteem in which she is held within the Rugby Writers' Club, having helped take the women's game to a new level in 2010. Maggie is a worthy winner."

The RUWC presented Phil Vickery with their special award after the former England captain and 2003 World Cup-winning prop was forced to retire earlier this season with a neck injury.


From Belfast Telegraph