Zoe Aldcroft wins England women’s player of the year at top rugby awards
Gloucester-Hartpury’s Zoe Aldcroft has won the England women’s player of the year award at the Rugby Players' Association awards.
She beat Sale Sharks’ Katy Daley-Mclean and Saracens’ Poppy Cleall to claim the award last held by Bristol Bears’ Sarah Bern.
Aldcroft said: “I am over the moon to win this, it's great to win an award but even better when you're team-mates have been voting for you.
"Everything you do on the pitch is for those guys so it is really special. This is the first time I've had consistency in playing, I've been injured the last couple of years but this season I've really had the chance to make my mark."
Meanwhile Jodie Ounsley won the Vodafone Gain Line Award which celebrates players’ off-field achievements and going above and beyond to prepare for life after rugby.
The Sale Sharks player is profoundly deaf and works with many charities to raise awareness and get young deaf people involved in sport.
She said: “It means a lot to me. It’s something I am really passionate about, so I'm very chuffed. Growing up with a disability, I feel I have a fire in my belly to go out and inspire other people. I had the idea of going into schools because I am a really shy person, so I thought you know what I am going to push myself out of my comfort zone, go into a school and talk about my journey.
"After that first school talk I was hooked and loved the positive impact it was having. From then on I went into seven more deaf schools and spoke to kids about my journey and tried to inspire them where I can.
"To see deaf children now taking up rugby because of me is incredible to see. My message to the kids is be yourselves and don't shy away from what makes you different, embrace yourself.”
Meg Jones claimed the England women’s sevens player of the year gong.
Vodafone Business Players' Player of the Year - Jack Willis
The Sanlam Young Player of the Year - Louis Rees-Zammit
England Men's Player of the Year - Tom Curry
England Men's 7s Player of the Year - Ben Harris
Special Merit Award in association with Jura - Richard Wigglesworth
Blyth Spirit Award in association with Towergate Insurance - Michael Fatialofa and Tom Smith
The Mammoth Mattress RPA Hall of Fame Award - Bill Beaumont