The Rugby Writers’ Club gave its main award to a woman player at its 50th annual dinner in London last night, with 27-year-old Maggie Alphonsi collecting the Pat Marshall Memorial Award ahead of such world figures as Richie McCaw of New Zealand and Victor Matfield of South Africa.
Back row forward Alphonsi topped the record-breaking poll to win the trophy which had spent the past year at the home of Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll.
Alphonsi commanded the attention of the rugby writers because of her outstandingly consistent displays in last year’s Rugby World Cup, where her England team was beaten 13-10 in the final by New Zealand.
Alphonsi, who started playing rugby when at school in Edmonton and who now plays for Saracens, has won 49 caps. She works as a divisional talent development officer for the RFU.