The 2019/20 Tyrrells Premier 15s campaign may have ended prematurely due to the ongoing situation of COVID-19, but Warriors Women recognised the achievements of their players during a virtual awards night on Saturday.
Warriors Women, who recently maintained their top-flight status, ended last season strongly with three home wins on the spin coupled with try bonus points at Loughborough Lightning and reigning Premier 15s champions Saracens.
Hosting the awards night via a Zoom call, promising wing Vicky Laflin scooped Most Improved Player, while versatile back-row Taz Bricknell and talented prop Akina Gondwe were named the Coaches Player of the Season and Club Person of the Year respectively. Maddie Broadhurst received the S&C Award, while the Players’ Player of the Season went to second-row Elizabeth Shermer.
The Development Team, who signed off the campaign with an impressive 50-19 triumph at Gloucester Hartpury, honoured a series of players too, with Narcisse ‘Keki’ Jordan named Most Improved Player, Jen Vermeulen awarded Coaches Player of the Season and Jemima Moss the recipient of the Players’ Player of the Season accolade. Keki played both first team and development rugby throughout the season, while Vermeulen and Moss continue their progression towards a place in the senior set-up.
“It was very difficult to chose who to give the awards to as all the girls have put in so much effort both on and off the field this year,” said Warriors Women Director of Rugby Jo Yapp.
“The players did a great job of putting together a really successful awards evening online and it was a great opportunity to recognise everyone’s efforts this year.”
Most Improved Player Laflin, who won the Tri-Nations with England U20s in 2018, dotted down six times for Warriors last season, including a scintillating solo try at home to Saracens at the turn of the year. Taking up rugby at the tender age of six, Laflin played for Readingensians Rugby Club prior to making the switch to Reading Rugby Club aged 13. From there, Laflin continued to impress and joined Warriors Women ahead of the 2017/18 season where she combines her studies at Worcester University with her passion for rugby.
Like Laflin, rugby has been coursing through the veins of Coaches Player of the Season Bricknell, who began playing for Sheppey RFC aged just four. Continuing her rugby education at Aylesford Bulls and then Medway U18s, the Kent-born talent moved to Gloucester Hartpury College where she combined her love of rugby with her studies. A member of England’s Talent Development Group for the 2016/17 season, Bricknell has five England U20 Caps and will undoubtedly be itching to pull on the Warriors jersey in the future.
Dedicated prop Gondwe was the deserved winner of the Club Person of the Year as she continues to take her game to new levels in Worcester blue. For Gondwe it all started at the age of 15 with West Kent Divas based at Beckenham RFC during which time she also played for Beccehamians RFC and Kent at county level. Joining Warriors in 2017, Gondwe has been a valuable member of the women’s set-up at Sixways and has since racked up nine England U20 caps, lifting back-to-back Tri-Nations titles in 2018 and 2019.
The S&C award went to Broadhurst, a hard-working prop who only started playing rugby at the beginning of the 2016/17 season at the age of 17 with Walsall’s newly established girls team. A move to Lichfield U18s soon followed and she was part of the squad that were runners-up in that season’s National Cup. On turning 18, Broadhurst moved up to Lichfield Ladies’ senior section and played regularly for both the first XV and the second XV as well as representing Staffordshire Women in the County Championship.
Players’ Player of the Season went to consistent lock Shermer, whose expertise at the lineout coupled with her excellent skill set has earned her widespread praise during the 2019/20 season. The Herfordshire-born athlete, who began her playing career with Harpenden, played for the University of Birmingham and was part of the team that went undefeated on the way to promotion to the BUCS Premiership.
Most Improved – Vicky Laflin
Most Improved (Development Team) – Narcisse ‘Keki’ Jordan
Coaches Player of the Season – Taz Bricknell
Coaches Player of the Season (Development Team) – Jen Vermeulen
Club Person of the Year – Akina Gondwe
S&C Award – Maddie Broadhurst
Players’ Player of the Season – Elizabeth Shermer
Players’ Player of the Season (Development Team) – Jemima Moss