England flanker Maggie Alphonsi has capped a remarkable year by becoming the first woman in the 50-year history of the Rugby Union Writers' Club to be honoured with the prestigious Pat Marshall Memorial Award as personality of the year 2010.
Alphonsi, one of the stars of Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 on home soil, beat New Zealand captain and IRB Player of the Year Richie McCaw, RWC 2007 winner Victor Matfield and Saracens' departing director of rugby Brendan Venter to the honour.
The 27-year-old's performances on the Women's Rugby World Cup stage as England reached the final, only to again lose to New Zealand before a near sellout crowd at the Twickenham Stoop in September, helped boost the profile of the Women's Game immensely.
Nicknamed 'Maggie the Machine' for her barnstorming runs and strength in the tackle and at the breakdown, Alphonsi was a nominee for the IRB Women's Personality of the Year award but narrowly missed out to New Zealand's star wing Carla Hohepa.
"In 2010, Maggie Alphonshi made a huge impact on the sport and emerged as one of the Game's great ambassadors," said Paul Morgan, the RUWC chairman and editor of the IRB World Rugby Yearbook.
"The fact that she beat Brendan Venter, Richie McCaw and Victor Matfield in the final voting shows the esteem in which she is held within the Rugby Writers' Club, having helped take the Women's Game to a new level in 2010. Maggie is a worthy winner."
Alphonsi joins the likes of Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Jean-Pierre Rives, David Campese and Jonah Lomu as winners of the award with her selection following a record poll of votes from the rugby-writing community being described by one journalist as "a victory for rugby".
"I am so overwhelmed about winning this award. I wasn’t expecting it, I didn’t even know I was nominated so to win is fantastic," said Alphonsi, who is set to win her 50th cap when the RBS Women's Six Nations kicks off next month.
"Some real rugby greats have won this award in the past, and one of the things that really makes this award so special is that it was voted for by influential people in the rugby industry."
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