2014 AUS Women’s Rugby Awards and All-Stars Announced

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StFX’s Emma Taylor named conference MVP

ISN – (WOLFVILLE, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2014 women’s rugby major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference’s four head coaches following the regular season.

Fifth-year StFX lock Emma Taylor has been named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player. This is the eighth time in the past 10 seasons that a member of the StFX X-Women has earned the honour.

Other AUS major award winners announced tonight at the AUS awards banquet hosted by Acadia University were StFX prop Joanna Alphonso of Ajax, Ont., who was named rookie of the year; UPEI wing Shanda Mosher-Gallant of Wellington, P.E.I., who received the student-athlete community service award; and StFX X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh, who was named the AUS coach of the year for the eighth time in his career.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Emma Taylor, StFX

Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby’s 2014 most valuable player is Emma Taylor of the first-place and CIS No. 2-ranked StFX X-Women.

Taylor led the AUS in tries this regular season with 10. She had the second most total points with 60 on the season.

A fifth-year business student from Scotsburn, N.S., this is Taylor’s third consecutive year being named to the AUS all-star team. She also took home CIS all-Canadian honours last season.

“Emma is a true blue leader and a very important member of our team on and off the field,” said X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh. “A solid overall player, she is a versatile forward, one of our leaders on the field and is a go-to player. She is always going forward, she has scoring ability and is solid in the set pieces. Emma has a great work ethic and is overall a strong rugby player.”
Taylor led the StFX X-Women to a 6-0 regular season record this year. In her previous four seasons with the team, the X-Women have claimed four AUS championship banners and two CIS championship wins – one on home turf in 2012.

Last season, Taylor was named the Subway AUS women’s rugby championship MVP after she scored the game-winning try in the championship game against the Acadia Axewomen. The try, which came in the final minute of the second overtime half, earned the X-Women another AUS banner as well as a berth in the national championship.

Taylor’s win marks the 10th time a StFX women’s rugby player has been crowned conference MVP since the award’s inception in 2000. She joins the ranks of fellow X-Women Tyson Beukeboom (named MVP in 2012, 2011 and 2010), Ghislaine Landry (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006), Danielle Goulet (2002) and Deanna Bennett (2000).

Taylor now becomes this year’s AUS nominee for CIS most valuable player. Former X-Women standout Ghislaine Landry was the last AUS student-athlete to take home this honour. She earned the accolade in 2008 and 2007.

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ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Joanna Alphonso, StFX

Joanna Alphonso of the StFX X-Women is the 2014 Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby rookie of the year.

A native of Ajax, Ont., Alphonso scored a total of six tries in six regular season games for the X-Women. She finished the season fourth in team scoring and tied for seventh overall in the AUS conference.

“Joanna is the complete rugby package – speed and athleticism combined with a high rugby IQ – and has been an impact player on our team from day one,” said StFX head coach Mike Cavanagh. “She can run over and around defenders, is a fierce tackler and is always going forward in both defence and offensive situations. Joanna is solid in set pieces and is a valuable player on our team.”
Alphonso becomes 10th AUS rookie of the year to be selected from the X-Women since the award’s inception in 2000. Former StFX standout Magali Harvey took home the honour most recently for the X-Women in 2010.

Former CIS player of the year Ghislaine Landry of StFX was the last Atlantic conference player to be named CIS rookie of the year in 2006.

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COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Cavanagh, StFX

For the eighth time in his 16-year career as the head coach of the StFX X-Women program, Mike Cavanagh has been chosen by his peers as the Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby coach of the year.

Cavanagh previously won the award in 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2002 and 2001. He was also named CIS coach of the year in both 2012 and 2001.

This season, Cavanagh guided the CIS No. 2-ranked and 16-time defending AUS conference champion X-Women to their ninth undefeated season (6-0-0) and 12th first-place finish since the 2002 season.

His 2014 StFX squad led the conference in points scored (404), tries scored (68), conversions (32) and allowed the fewest points against in six regular season games (34).

Since 2002, Cavanagh’s career record now stands at 76-2-2 in AUS regular season play. His overall record since 2002, including AUS playoff and CIS championship contests, is now 112-27-5.

His X-Women have never lost an Atlantic University Sport playoff game, sporting a perfect 15-0 record heading into this weekend. He has also guided the X-Women to 16 consecutive CIS championship appearances.

“Year in, year out, Mike continues to put championship calibre teams on the pitch,” said StFX director of athletics, Leo MacPherson. “He does a great job in identifying and recruiting the best and brightest student-athletes to StFX. And once here, they completely buy into the championship culture we have in place. It all starts with coaching and Mike does it as well as anyone.”

Cavanagh is one of only two AUS head coach to be named CIS coach of the year. Acadia Axewomen head coach Matt Durant took home the honour most recently in 2013.

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STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Shanda Mosher-Gallant, UPEI

The 2014 student-athlete community service award recipient is Shanda Mosher-Gallant of the UPEI Panthers.

A fourth-year science student in her third year of eligibility for the Panthers, Mosher-Gallant spearheaded the creation of a Rookie Rugby program in western Prince Edward Island this past summer.

Rookie Rugby is Rugby Canada’s non-contact introduction to the game of rugby that is implemented in schools and communities across Canada for boys and girls of all ages and aligns with Rugby Canada’s mission and vision.

The 5-foot-0 wing from Wellington, P.E.I. single-handedly approached the City of Summerside to secure funding and approached other local businesses to financially support the program.

Mosher-Gallant was also responsible for marketing and advertising the program, which ultimately had 30 participants. Further to that, she contributed $500 of her own money to purchase equipment for U12 and U10 participants to use.

Because of her efforts, P.E.I. was able to host its first-ever mini rugby game following a senior men’s game in late August.

Mosher-Gallant has level one coaching certification and attended Rugby Canada’s Rookie Rugby training sessions in Halifax from October 3 to 5.

“PEI has a small population of 145,000 people and promoting and retaining rugby players here is very challenging,” said Panthers head coach Shannon Atkins. “Shanda saw the need in her community to engage young athletes in this dynamic sport and jumped at the chance to offer children in her community the opportunity to play a sport that has been so good to her. She is an innovator and giver. That is why she is an excellent recipient for this award.”

“I feel that Shanda is one of those great people that you get have in your life,” continued Atkins. “She is a tiny little woman that is as big as life. She always has a smile on her face and does what she can to make others feel good around her. That is why it is no surprise that she took the time to help children experience the great sport of rugby all on her own. She is a joy every day.”

Mosher-Gallant is the first player from UPEI to be honoured with this award since its inception in 2009. StFX’s Jamee George is the only AUS student-athlete to have ever earned the CIS honour. She took home the award in 2010.

2014 AUS WOMEN’S RUGBY ALL-STARS

The 2014 Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby all-stars were also announced Friday evening. They are as follows:

Front row: Joanna Alphonso, StFX (1st year – Ajax, Ont.)
Front row: Holly Jones, UPEI (3rd year – Riverview, N.B.)
Front row: Catharine MacKeigan, StFX (3rd year – Toronto, Ont.)
Second row: Emma Taylor, StFX (5th year – Scotsburn, N.S.)
Second row: Michaela Haley, Acadia (2nd year – Ottawa, Ont.)
Back row: Janna Slevinski, Acadia (4th year – St. Albert, Alta.)
Back row: Brooke Newsome, StFX (2nd year – Brantford, Ont.)
Back row: Renee Champagne, Saint Mary’s (5th year – Burlington, Ont.)
Scrum half: Zahra Batool, StFX (4th year – Waterloo, Ont.)
Fly half: Erin Beazley, Acadia (5th year – Windsor, N.S.)
Centre: Shannon White, Acadia (2nd year – Mississauga, Ont.)
Centre: Jaelei Meyer, StFX (2nd year – Carlyle, Sask.)
Winger: Danielle Robb, StFX (4th year – Shanigan Lake, B.C.)
Fullback: Alysha Corrigan, UPEI (1st year – Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Fullback: Breanna Allison, StFX (2nd year – Cole Harbour, N.S.)

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