Maggie MacPhee, Saint Mary’s

Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2019 women’s rugby major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference’s four head coaches following the regular season.

Fourth-year Acadia Axewomen fullback Monique Coffey has been named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player.

Acadia’s Sarah Palfy of Sexsmith, Alta., has been named the AUS rookie of the year.

This year’s recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award is Saint Mary’s Maggie MacPhee of Riverview, N.B.

And in his 21st season at the helm of the X-Women program, Coach Mike Cavanagh has been named the AUS coach of the year for the 12th time in his career.

Monique Coffey, Acadia Axewomen
Monique Coffey, Acadia Axewomen

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Monique Coffey, Acadia Axewomen

Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby’s 2019 most valuable player is Monique Coffey of the AUS No. 2 and U SPORTS No. 7-ranked Acadia Axewomen.

A fourth-year kinesiology student from Ethelbert, Man., Coffey played in five regular season games and one playoff game for the Axewomen this season. The Acadia squad finished in second place with a 4-2 record—with their only losses being against the defending national champion X-Women.

Coffey scored five tries in the regular season for 25 points and managed two tries in Acadia’s 52-20 playoff win over the UPEI Panthers in the AUS semifinal.

In addition to being named AUS MVP, Coffey was also named to the AUS all-star team today for the second consecutive year. 

Her MVP win marks the second consecutive year an Acadia player has earned the conference’s top honour. Teammate Laura Plfeiderer earned MVP nods last season.

Axewomen alumna Andrea Burk is the only other Acadia player to ever be named AUS MVP. She earned the honour in back-to-back seasons in 2004 and 2005.

Coffey now becomes this year’s AUS nominee for the U SPORTS most valuable player award.

Former StFX X-Women standout Ghislaine Landry is the only AUS student-athlete to have ever won the national award. She earned the accolade in 2008 and 2007.

Sarah Palfy, Acadia Axewomen
Sarah Palfy, Acadia Axewomen

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Sarah Palfy, Acadia Axewomen

Sarah Palfy from the Acadia Axewomen has been named the 2019 AUS Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby rookie of the year.

A first-year kinesiology student from Sexsmith, Alta. Palfy played in all six regular season games and the AUS semifinal for the Axewomen this season.

She made an immediate impact for the Acadia squad, earning Subway Player of the Game honours in their 41-14 win over Saint Mary’s on Sept. 21.

Prior to joining the Axewomen, Palfy won four consecutive titles with her high school team, the Sexsmith Sabres.

This marks the fourth time an Acadia player has been named AUS Rookie of the Year.

Rookies from the Axewomen earned the honour three consecutive years from 2011 to 2013—Deidre Rees won in 2011, Maddie MacKenzie in 2012 and Laura Klingenberg in 2013.

Palfy now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS rookie of the year award.

The most recent AUS player to earn the national honour was StFX’s Ghislaine Landry. She took home the award in 2006.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Cavanagh, StFX

For the 12th time in his 21-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 has previously won the award in 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2002 and 2001. He was also named CIS (now U SPORTS) coach of the year in both 2012 and 2001.

This season, Cavanagh guided the U SPORTS No. 3-ranked and defending AUS and U SPORTS champion X-Women to a 6-0 record and their 17th first-place finish since the 2002 season.


His undefeated 2019 StFX squad allowed the fewest points against in six regular season games this year with 43.

Since 2002, Cavanagh’s career record now stands at 105-3-2 in AUS regular season play. His overall record since 2002, including AUS playoff and CIS/U SPORTS championship contests, is now 157-32-5 heading into Saturday’s championship final.

He has guided the X-Women to 19 AUS championship titles, six national championship titles, and 21 consecutive national championship appearances.

Cavanagh now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for U SPORTS Coach of the Year.


Acadia Axewomen head coach Matt Durant is the most recent AUS coach to win the national award. He took home the honour in 2013.

Maggie MacPhee, Saint Mary’s
Maggie MacPhee, Saint Mary’s


The 2019 student-athlete community service award recipient is Maggie MacPhee of the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

A fourth-year criminology and psychology student from Riverview, N.B., MacPhee plays at prop for Saint Mary’s Huskies and has served as team captain since 2018.

She is heavily involved in the community both on and off campus. On campus, she has served on the SMU Athletic Council since 2017 and is the current president. She is also the president of the SMU Motionball committee, which organizes fundraising events for Special Olympics Nova Scotia.

MacPhee is also a member of the SMU Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative and the Here for Peers peer mentorship program.

Off campus, she is a volunteer with Rugby Nova Scotia, managing the provincial U18 women’s AA team. She also serves as a volunteer coach with both the Halifax Rugby Football Club’s U12 team and the Halifax West High School girls’ rugby team.

MacPhee is just the third player from the Huskies to be honoured with this award since its inception in 2009. Saint Mary’s Jessica Frenette and Elizabeth Mooney earned the honour in 2011 and 2009, respectively.

MacPhee now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the national award.

Acadia’s Kelsey Brumm is the most recent AUS student-athlete to earn the national honour, which she claimed in 2016.


The following players have been named to the 2019 Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby all-star team:

Front Row/Prop: Sam Lake, StFX (5th year – Windsor, N.S.)
Front Row/Prop: Frances MacWilliam, UPEI (4th year – Alberton, P.E.I.)
Front Row/Hooker: Sarah Boudreau, Acadia (5th year – Middle Sackville, N.S.)
Second row/Lock: Sarah McCarron, StFX (4th year – Antigonish, N.S.)
Second row/Lock: Harley Tucker, Acadia (4th year – Black Diamond, Alta.)
Back row/Flanker: Laura Pfleiderer, Acadia (4th year – Williams Lake, B.C.)
Back row/Flanker: Alexandra Hamilton, StFX (4th year – Eastern Passage, N.S.)
Back row/#8: Marissa McBride, Saint Mary’s (3rd year – Cambridge, N.S.)
Scrum Half: Madison Ross, StFX (1st year – Coldbrook, N.S.)
Fly Half/Stand Off: Julie Naugler, Saint Mary’s (4th year – Stillwater Lake, N.S.)
Center: Emilie Merilainen, Acadia (3rd year – Batawa, Ont.)
Center: Sarah Hoerig, StFX (3rd year – Whitby, Ont.)
Winger: Bailey Dembicki, Acadia (3rd year – Lloydminster, Sask.)
Winger: Mackenzie Hale, UPEI (1st year – Halifax, N.S.)
Fullback: Monique Coffey, Acadia (4th year – Ethelbert, Man.)