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Sapphire Series 2018

Sapphire 2018: Round 2 recap and MVPs

What an eventful day for this bunch of ballers! Wonderful conditions of a sunny but cold day, and speakers blasting out Moana on the banter bus, the team were so ready to take on two very tough teams – Chester Romans and Sandwell Steelers! We loved playing them in 5 aside and we were just as keen to see them at 7s. Both games saw new formations and schemes on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and due to injuries the Valkyries saw many players in new positions and roles. However all stepped up to the plate when called upon…



Cardiff Valkyries V Chester Romans

The first game saw an all-out battle between hard hitters Chester Romans and was by far the standout performance from the team. On the defense we saw some great pressure from the team, with Mandy Gould entering as Nose Tackle and doing a smashing job! Throughout the game there were some great hits by all the team, putting on pressure in the back field and getting two fumble recoveries by Lauren Oldacre and Zoe John.

Offense wise the game kicked off with an absolute rush, with a running touch down by QB Kira Walker on the second play of the game! Chester’s defense was not to be taken lightly however, and proved to be a menacing force scoring safety’s. The offense kept repping with heart however, and with those amazing hands of Ruth Lewis another touchdown was made. With limited personnel the offense saw line-backer Zoe John making her debut filling in as running back, scoring a rushing touch down. Even right at the end the team still gave it absolutely everything, almost getting a safety and then, with seconds left, going the length of the field in 3 plays to get a TD with the last play of the game with anotherimpressive catch by Ruth Lewis – leaving the Valkyries at a very impressive 29-24 loss!

Cardiff Valkyries 24 – Chester Romans 29


Cardiff Valkyries V Sandwell Steelers

The second game against Sandwell Steelers was another battle for the ball. Sandwell hit us hard early with an excellent running game and, while the team rallied in the game and began to create stops, the difference maker in the game resided in the backfield of Sandwell and proved too difficult to completely contain over the course of the game. However, despite the score line the team never gave up – a trait in every game they have played – and kept going to the very end no matter what. Even injuries didn’t phase the players as we reorganised into a completely new defense to accommodate.

On the offense we saw some short yardage gains by Zoe at RB, but the deep threat arm of QB Kira and the talents of receivers made the points. In the first half we saw a grand catch by Ruth and some fantastic blocking by Elleanor stopping the potential tackle. However, despite the score line the team never gave up – a trait in every game they have played – and kept going to the very end no matter what. The offense maintained their determination and were rewarded with a couple of scores late in the game. The re-vamped offense saw a tasty play – a choo choo train of 6 linewomen followed by Zoe at QB rushing into the endzone. Elleanor showed some Odell-like hands, catching a very heated ball surrounded by Steelers for the touchdown. The extra point was scored by another line-backer in her offensive debut- a pass to Holly Dame catching the ball at tight end! Smashing!

Cardiff Valkyries 20 – Sandwell Steelers 51



Offense MVP

As mentioned, as an offence we threw a lot of new things out there. It was great to see the line coming together running 4, 5 and the famous 6 player units. Special mentions as well to Zoe John and Elleanor O’Connell for coming across from Defense to plug the gaps and allowing us to still do what we wanted to do. Both had really great plays and definitely contributed to a strong offensive showing.

However, you know that someone is playing well and influencing the game when you can hear the opposition coaches screaming at the defense to cover her. With Sandwell rotating their defense across to her side and at one point even triple teaming her on a play Ruth Lewis was certainly the different maker on the field. The attention was richly deserved as she continued her ability to turn contested catches into huge scores with her speed and elusiveness.


Defense MVP

On defense the honourable mention goes to Lauren Oldacre who had a fantastic game. Played both d line and line backer and managed to pull off some great tackles.

But defensive MVP goes to Zoe John. An outstanding performance with some big defensive plays. With her experience of reading the game and some powerful tackles, Zoe proved to be a force to be reckoned with on the field.

Well done, everyone!


There are so many things to take from the day! We are still on a massive high and feeling more than ready for Round 3 this Saturday. Bring it on!


Tackle Football

Sapphire 2018: Round 1 recap and MVPS

The Valkyries started their game days with the usual early alarms and coffees, and again we faced an entirely new game format with 7 a-side– the nerves were certainly there. However, we knew this was going to be part of something special for Sapphire Series 2018.

Cardiff Valkyries v Wembley Stallions

The first game of the say saw us against Wembley. On the defense we proved to be a strong unit, including a sack by rookie linebacker Ceri Yeoman and pressuring their run game. With all players showing a development in their theoretical knowledge and coverage, the pressure from the whole team was evident in the game. We all know the Wembley are a very talented team, so this really does say words about the D.

On offense the pressure was on with Wembley’s speed. As a result there were several turnovers on offense with slips and slides on the ball. However we did spice things up a bit with an entire offensive line (that’s right – 5 and even 6 offensive lineman!) and played around with several new positions for vets and rookies alike in game time.  Not only this, but some great runs by QB Kira Walker and Han O’Connor at RB, the offense were gaining yardage and never losing spirit.

End score Wembley 36 – Valkyries 0


Cardiff Valkyries v Portsmouth Dreadnoughts

Then after a few minutes rest came the Portsmouth game. Once again defense were a strong performance. Portsmouth’s run and switch plays saw the ability to get past some of the D, scoring up the points. However this doesn’t reflect how many great tackles were made and the pressure that the defense consistently maintained.

Offensively we really started to find our feel for the game (and in such bad weather conditions that really says something…), starting to move the ball more on runs and passes – with a fantastic long catch by Lois McConville. Unfortunately the catch was followed with an injury, and the game was called with ten minutes to go. Even in a shorter game it seemed like a different offense performance – a really great advancement!

End score Portsmouth 32 – Valkyries 0


Offensive MVP

The offensive MVP for round 1 goes to one of our centers, Maria Mercedes May. Off with injury for several months and going up to 7s are major issues for any player, though you wouldn’t have been able to tell for MVP Maria. Maria made a big impact coming on to the field, not only not only with the snaps in bad conditions but also with her blocking against a strong, physical team. Alongside this she also gave great support to the two rookies playing alongside her in their first ever games.

Special mention goes to rookie running back Han O’Connor who really grew into the day and put a great effort into the day with some really great runs. Coming in with limited exposure to real game experience, she grew into the tournament and really started to get it going towards the end with some strong runs. Though with little experience games you would think she has been at the position much longer with the heart she showed in the games.


Defensive MVP

Defense MVP goes to defensive end, Sheryl “Shed” Dame. Sheryl proved to be a dominant force in both games, keeping up the pressure and ensuring some great tackles. Some great pressure and tackles through the games, always putting in the effort to get in and around the action. Had fun in the second game with all the attention she received from the guard and TE at the point of attack but held up well against the blocks. Close to several sacks as well leading the team, defensive captain Sheryl was no doubt a visible influencer in the game.

Special mention goes to receiver and corner, Ruth Lewis. Not only some big hits but also some great covering tackles, including the big chase down along the sideline to prevent a score.


Clearly there are lots of things to take away round 1. We looked to adjust and try new things and it is a testament to where the team are that we were able to try new things and have success with them. Not every team can go out and run an offence that has never been practised at any point at the drop of a hat and with minimal instruction. Not every defence could be put in a completely different alignment and still get success. Not only that but players moved around different positions to cover. Both Mandy “Dips” Gould shifting over to the DL and then Lauren Oldacre moving to LB to cover was great to see.

It was a long day from start to finish. It was cold, wet, injuries here there and everywhere. But we played with heart the entire day. We know where we can improve, and we know we will. Last year our comparison from round 1 to round 4 was definitely noticeable…let’s see how we improve in comparison this year…


On the note of Lois’ injury we would like to take this moment to thank the medic and the Portsmouth team for their help, with several of their players and coaches staying after the game for quite a significant period of time. Lois will be out for the remainder of the season but it doing well.

BAFA Sapphire Series On reflection

A year in the life of a rookie

You’re probably all aware from our recent post that this team has achieved a lot this year, and we look forward to doing many more things too! Of course, the team wouldn’t be the team without the players. Each rookie day that passes and each player who returns, it’s a great feeling. Here is another player, another Valkyrie, and we know for sure it’s going to be something special for them. One year on from our first ever taster day in January 2017, the rookies are no longer rookies – they are the vets now instilling and helping others in the team. Here are what some of those who joined us last year have to say about their experiences this year; how it changed them, how it gave them something different….

Read more “A year in the life of a rookie”

On reflection

2017: A Year of Many Firsts

As we step into the New Year it’s time to stop and reflect on the amazing 2017 the Cardiff Valkyries had.

Many are aware that the Cardiff Valkyries have worked really hard as a team to build what we have. We started off with flag football in 2016 with the aim of tackle football in mind, and so perhaps the most significant achievement of the year was participating in our first ever tackle tournament, Sapphire Series 2017! It was the first ever experience of a real tackle football game that the team had faced, with most of the players never even participating in the flag football season, going head first into a world of new terminologies, routes and plays. With the help of our friends at the South Wales Warriors we trained for Sapphire Series in a relatively short period of time, but went and gave it all we had. Read more “2017: A Year of Many Firsts”

Tackle Football

Topaz 2017 – Round 1

Topaz round 1

We always knew that it would be tough taking on two established 7’s team right at the start of our journey. However, anyone that has been following the Valkyries will know we love a challenge! We had a couple of players getting their first ever contact experience and others playing out of position but they all stuck to their tasks really well and developed through the day amazingly. It was great to get that experience of just what 7’s is all about

Read more “Topaz 2017 – Round 1”

Coach's View

Coach’s View: October 2017

Preparations for the forthcoming season are in full swing now. It has been great to welcome yet more players into the team and encouraging to see them throw themselves into training right from the start.

With the push to move to 7’s this year, it has meant some changes to the playbooks as we incorporate new positions and rules into the game. However, given we had always looked forward to the 11-a-side game, the transition has been smooth as players are able to recognise quickly what we are looking to do.

Read more “Coach’s View: October 2017”


Coach Browning: Looking Forward

Guest blog from Head Coach, Simon Browning

A new season and a new challenge.

It seems that taking on something new is becoming a habit for the team. Playing friendlies against local men’s flag teams and then being the only female team in a tournament shortly after. Entering our first national flag tournament and then our first tackle tournament a couple of months later. Instead of breaking for the summer, taking new players off to a summer tournament to get their first taste of action. Players getting their first taste of full 11-a-side action at the national Diamond series. And now… Read more “Coach Browning: Looking Forward”

Tackle Football

Valkyries are recruiting! Rookie day information…

The time is nearly upon us where the Valkyries welcome some new rookies to join the team and try out the awesome spectacle that is contact football on both the 3rd and 17th September. Our taster days are an incredibly exciting day for the team, hoping to expand and hoping to introduce a fun new sport to the women who attend. Now understandably, not a lot of people know anything about American Football. Even more understandably, some of you might be nervous!

We know exactly how it feels to have a go at a completely new sport, so we thought we would take this opportunity to write a blog about our feelings in the past, present, and future of the team, and also go through the idea of American football in general. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to know the rules, routes, or even have an idea of American Football. Just turn up and have a go!

Read more “Valkyries are recruiting! Rookie day information…”

Flag Football

Valkyries attend BAFA Flag Development Session

As you may know a few of the Valkyries attended BAFA’s Flag Football Development Day! Head Coach Simon (and also an offensive GB Flag coach, who was running the day) had this to say about the event:

“The development day was a new format, where we sought to challenge participants mentally about the game rather than focussing on fundamentals. Through this we focussed on two main areas. First, the question of why? Why do we do the formations we do? Why do we run the concepts we do? Second, we then looked at what information we could gain from the opposition. What ‘tells’ can they give us through their alignment or body language? Then what we can do with that information to make our play more effective.” Read more “Valkyries attend BAFA Flag Development Session”

Flag Football

Summer Series 2017 – Round 3 MVPs

What an amazing tournament it’s been! We came 5th place in Summer Series out of 9 teams and had a smashing time every round. Here are the MVPs for the final round…

Facing a talented defense in both games and with constant blitzing, the pressure of being QB is always going to be high. Nevertheless, QB Kira Walker leading the offense proved to be a never ending pit of effort and determination. As always Center Mandy Charlotte Gould performed with snazzy snaps and excellent hands (perhaps more impressive, Mandy came all the way to play one game before leaving to catch a plane straight after…to start her journey to climb Machu Picchu!! Best of luck to you Mandy). We saw the return of the always-positive Beetle (Beth Kenure) to some fantastic catches, as well as the skilled hands of Ruth Lewis and rookie Abby Bevan who were so very close to touchdowns. However, one person in particular really stepped up the mark – Offensive MVP HollyAnne Dame. You would never have thought that Holly was taking up her first game at Center: precision snapping, fantastic hands, finding space for easy yard gains and a touchdown!! These are all indications of a very seasoned player on offense and the fact that this is her first game on O makes this all the more impressive.

Read more “Summer Series 2017 – Round 3 MVPs”

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