Category: Sapphire Series 2018/2019


Valkyries Mention of the Month

Bringing our year to a fabulous close, our awards ceremony at the start of the month went out with a bang! At any event, there’s lots of organising to do – ordering trophies, food, venues (and one with a fabulous karaoke facility of course…). SO…this month’s Valkyrie of the month – sponsored by Physis. Ltd – goes to Zoe and Mandy for the work put into making our fabalous event happen!

Thanks to you both!

Sapphire Series 2018/2019

End of Year Awards 2019

With the season at a close, we come to our awards ceremony which celebrates the achievements of the team, but importantly to those individuals who provided a stand out and influential performance on the team…

Rookie MVP

We had a lot of rookies this year that we threw into the mix, with very little instruction from the side-line because you couldn’t physically come off for us to tell you what you need to do. But again one of the greatest thing we had as a rookie class you picked up what we were trying to do very quickly. In many respects it was easy for us to do what we needed to do, to basically trust you to go out and do it because as a class you showed that desire to learn you showed that desire to get better and understand what was going on. Not just physically in the game but outside and beyond as well. And there were certainly a few people we could have given this award to, there were several stand out rookies. The person that we went to was one that gave a contribution both sides of the ball. On the offense often doing a lot of the dirty work, the less glamour side of stuff. On the defense being thrust into positions not fully understanding. Effectively learning on the fly, but again giving a solid contribution in that as well. So the person we’re giving this award to is Zoe Wilder.

Lineman MVP

This is for both offense and defense, and there were many contributions on both sides. Again we were plugging and playing people with very short notice without necessarily a lot of training sessions behind them, but going in there and doing what we asked of them to do. The person we are giving the award to gave a consistent presence on the line, the leadership she showed and developed through the season really helped a lot of this to actually work, the way she coordinated people and what they needed to do to take control of the line situation. And then that epic day when she never ever came off the field even though she begged us to do it, so this award goes to Mandy.

Defensive MVP

I really loved all of your efforts this year I thought it was incredible, and there was a huge amount of trust. I want to mention a couple of people who I thought did an absolutely outstanding job. One was Zoe Wilder who did an outstanding job at free safety with little experience of the position, and then corner as well. She really picked it up and she really did a great job and made a real difference on the field. And the other person I want to mention is Sophie. You did an incredible job, you always chased them down and it really made a difference for our line to put in that effort and we can’t wait to see what you do next year. And the person who’s getting it, she was a real game changer, she was in every play and our defense would have been different without you, Lauren.

Offensive MVP

The player that’s won this, as an offensive coach you realise when someone’s come to a particular point when the defense it trying to get that player out of the game. We’ve seen it before in the past, and you can see opposition coaches try and take this person out of the game. And that to be is a symbol of what this person was. She was a real threat on offense and she really had the potential to change the game and make defences worried. And then again sort of typifying that, with the Kent game, stepping in and catching the eyes of GB scouts just on one performance, so our offensive player of the year goes to Laura.

Overall MVP

Again, we’ve got a lot of talent in this team so picking an overall player of the year is not easy. We’ve got players that are playing the game at a very high level for us and putting the effort in, and all round and helping all round. Someone like Ruth helping people and guiding them through, helping us on the side-line for example. But the person who won the overall one had in our minds a dominant year and who contributed on both sides of the ball she’s someone who was dominant in her chosen position but when placed on the other side she put in outstanding performances there. Going up to Hereford as well and suddenly realising she’s now turning into a running back as well so just on pure impact throughout the entire year this award goes to Lauren.

Coaches’ Player

This isn’t about who is the best player, this is about somebody who we as coaches feel has contributed to the team than in more ways that just on the field. It’s somebody who’s practices and games outside of all those sessions. The player who’s won this has not only had a very good year from a playing point of view, how she’s developed from where she was to where she is has grown dramatically, and she’s someone who constantly pushing us as coaching staff, constantly asking questions, constantly striving to get better, constantly striving to improve her performance and be the best that she possible can be. And again from a coaching point of view that’s ideal for us, is pushes us to get better, it pushes you to get better. And from what we can tell she’s been a great team player as well. Unfortunately she’s not here tonight in true form but coaches’ player is Katherine.

Valkyries’ Valkyrie

Finishing off with Valkyries’ Valkyrie. The reason why we do this last is because in my mind it  is the most important of all. This is just by the players, someone that epitomizes what it means to play for this club. I’m lucky enough to read some of the comments you’ve made with you nominations, it’s one of my favourite parts to see how you view each other. Reading just a couple of comments before announcing, we’ve got Lois for her dedication to the team this year even as she’s not able to play because she’s injured, still turning up, taking warm ups, still being involved. Zoe for her hard work and her dedication. Kira, for always helping others on the line, always helping others, making people feel welcomed, and being very approachable. Lauren as well. Ruth – and a comment there being “half the stuff this year I wouldn’t have been able to have done without Ruth”. We’ve got one for Katherine about how much she’s improved, how motivating she is to everyone. Another one for Mandy and her dedication to training, meeting outside of training to help with playbooks. This is one of those things that are really great to read that as a club you’re all coming together, you’re all helping each other in a supportive environment, which is one of the most important things we do as a club. But, there was actually a tie this year for Valkyries’ Valkyrie: Ruth and Lois.

Flump Award

Perhaps the most prestigious award, the Flump Award is the clumsiest award for the night. It’s for things like Ruth, breaking her fingers, and then playing again, and then breaking her thumb and tying to play in a cast. Things like Zoe, getting two flags in one play. And there’s many other things. But the one it goes to is for someone who stepped into a certain position, not really sure what she was doing, made an excellent run with the ball, covered MILES, and then threw the ball forward. So this award goes to Laura.

For the coaches and our President

We just wanted to say a big thank you to Simon and Kate as a club from all of us to our wonderful coaches this year just for always being there for us, making sure we’re okay, dealing with our humor, dealing with the fact we love dogs, and have very short attention spans…and just to say thank you for sticking with us and coaching us. Although a lot of our players were on the field all the time, for you still still give us feedback, pointers, it’s just really amazing. So thank you again.

And to our Club President, Lois. She works incredibly hard as president of the club. There’s a lot of things that go into this team and being this team is really special. There’s ups and downs and we also look forward despite any struggles. You are a major cornerstone in this outlook.

To the team. thank you very much for your hard work, and we can’t wait for next year. Roll on next year!


Sapphire Series 2018/2019

Sapphire Series Round 3 MVPs

Round 3 saw Cardiff travel to Kent for the first time, to take on familiar foes Kent and Wembley – who have been our opponents each round so far! With some players not being able to recover from injuries in time to travel, Cardiff ended up taking 10 to the round so Iron-woman football was the order of the day again. Not only that, but the personnel available meant the week was spent installing a new defence along with new calls and responsibilities.

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Cardiff V Wembley

With Wembley first up, this new defence was always going to be tested against a team with a powerful running attack. And so it proved to be with Wembley taking early advantage of some defensive confusion to jump out to an early lead. As the game progressed the Valkyries began to settle in to the game and start to get a feel for the defence resulting in some stops.

On the other side the offence began to move the ball but unfortunately couldn’t find that little extra to punch it in. At the end of the first half came a big turning point for the day when the Valkyries starting QB Kira Walker was knocked out of the game, and ultimately the rest of the tournament. With just a couple of minutes before the start of the second half it was time to put in a new QB and also make major changes to the offence. Moving from her starting WR role into QB, rookie Laura Johnson went behind centre for the first time ever. Down to just 2 remaining other skill position players, Cardiff were also forced to go to a 4 woman line for the remainder of the day. Despite having just a couple of minutes to adjust to a completely new position Laura had an outstanding game, and was a constant threat with the ball in her hand not only running it directly but looking to throw it as well – although now probably holds the record for the most illegal forward pass ever attempted in the sport.

Cardiff v Kent

Next up were Kent. With most players playing both ways, this was the first time in the day where proper adjustments could be made and the gap in the games was primarily spent installing how the new look offence would work. In what proved to be a great back and forth game, both the offence and defence stood up valiantly against the Exiles. With both sides fully committed to everything and very evenly matched it came down to a few big explosive plays. On the Cardiff side, Laura continued to make yards with her legs, admirably supported by Zoe Wilder who got the hard yards when needed, running straight up into the gut of the defence. Growing in confidence and with a defence keying in on her, Laura then opened up with a huge throw down the sideline to fellow rookie Katherine Fretwell who caught the contested ball and then muscled her way into the end zone for her very first TD as a Valkyrie – a great first for both of them with Laura running all the way down the field to be the first to congratulate her.

Unfortunately the Exiles just had that one extra big play and it was no surprise that their #17 was the one to break the contain and sprint her way down the sideline for what turned out to be the winning score. Yet again, she had a stand out day, both on O and D, with some huge runs as well as excellent coverage from the corner position. The Valkyries had one last drive to look to take the win, but unfortunately fell just short in Exile territory and Kent were able to kneel out the game. Despite the results on the day the Valkyries left proud of their efforts. Special shout outs go to the following players who played every single snap of both games:

Mandy Gould – Centre/DE

Zoe Wilder – RB/WR/Coner

Lauren Oldacre – LB/Guard (every play but 1).

Speaking after the game, Head Coach Simon Browning said “Nothing seems to phase this group of women. No matter what the circumstance. No matter what adversity they face, they just take it all in their stride and – most importantly – with a smile on their face. Some teams would fold in such circumstances. New defence. New offence put in on the fly. Players playing every snap. Players playing out of position. But not this group. They just keep going, and give it absolutely everything they have. As a coach I could not ask for anymore than what they gave me today”

On that note, the MVPs are given below, although we could give it to everyone just on the effort.


Honourable mentions for this award are:
Sophie Nicol – really starting to develop at the DL position, she started to really get some pressure into the backfield, but was also always hustling to get back and chase runners down from behind. Great effort all day

Katherine Fretwell – Again great effort on the outside, doing all the little things that help the team forcing runners back inside for the help to get there.

As MVP, playing both ways – as most did – this player had a great day, not only on offence but also at her more familiar defensive positioning. The pursuit to the ball was again first class, shutting down many a potential threat with sure, solid tackling. Always giving 100% effort on every play, despite a niggling injury the defensive MVP goes to… Lauren Oldacre

Honourable mentions for this award are:
The O-Line as a whole. We had talked about needing to take control of the line of scrimmage for the last few sessions and in this game all stepped up and made a great improvement in this area.

As MVP though, this player was a constant threat with the ball in hand – and also got her first ever pass and TD through the air as well. Although I don’t think anyone will ever let her forget the illegal forward pass in a hurry!

Some great runs that kept the offence moving and a great job of executing a completely new offence. Well done Laura Johnson

In a day with great effort shown all round there were several players that could have received this award. However, the winner of the award had a couple of real highlight moments.

On offence, she was handed the ball with the completely unsubtle instructions to just get the hard yards for a first down or to punch it into the endzone. What was great to see was how she put into action what had been discussed in training and just made the one move and got north-south quickly, running right into the teeth of the defence and pushing them back. Great to see the work in training come off and richly rewarded with a score. Out on the edge, she did some great blocking downfield against bigger players – again never shirking from her responsibility. Finally, on defence, possibly the play of the game coming across the field like a green missile to stop what seemed a certain Kent score. I was convinced it was going to be a score, and I still have no idea where she came from to make the tackle.

Congratulations to Zoë Jane Wilder

A huge thanks to Kent for hosting!

See the link for the full album by Kieron Hyams!

Sapphire Series 2018/2019

Sapphire Series Round 2 – Coaches recap

As the dust settles from a busy weekend and we all finally thaw out, there are a few thoughts on the team’s performance from coach Browning and coaches Simon and Kate:

“First of all, MVPs. We had decided before the games started that irrespective of what happened we were not going to give MVPs for this round. That 6 of the team were just turning around and going the other way each time, playing in new positions without any fuss made them all MVPs in our eyes.

People underestimate how hard it is to do that. To be mentally focused in knowing what you are doing and changing your mind set from Drive to drive. They all did brilliantly.

Saying that though, congratulations to both Mandy and Elleanor who each made history by being the first to score in Wales and the first to score an offensive TD. Also to Kira for the throw to Elleanor that made it happen.

But our final point is the main one. It has been noted by other coaches remarking on the day, and that is the character of the club. We’ve said It before, and we’ll say it again. The attitude everyone has is amazing. The fact that no one gives up. They keep going and they get those rewards at the end of games. We’ve lost track of the number of games we have scored right at the end of. Alongside that, they play the game in the right way. We’re proud to be in the sideline with you all and even more proud when coaches come up at the end of games full of praise for what they are doing.

The path is there. If we keep putting in the work. If we keep this mentality, then the results will come”.


Sapphire Series 2018/2019

Sapphire Series 18/19 Round 1 MVPs

The first round of Sapphire Series was a fantastic day – despite arriving late due to traffic with only 20 minutes to get ready and warm-up! Ah!

The Valkyries are on their way home from a fantastic day of football. Going away with two losses, 30-6 to Wembley and 25-18 to Kent, the team have a lot to take away from the day – including many positive reflections. Rookies had a demon of a day, touchdowns, blocks, tackles like pros! Vets alike also had a storm, interceptions, and steam training with pressure on the D.


Special mentions

First of all we want to again say how proud we are of everyone. A make shift team with players playing out of position, and the team were competitive in both games. Others may look at the scores and think otherwise but they were much closer than that lets on.

Several coaches on the day from other teams were impressed with how we just kept coming at them the whole day, and how we never stopped fighting. This was shown by the efforts at the end of both games where we scored at the end each time. Well done everyone.

Before we get onto the MVPs, I want to mention a few other performances on the day.

First to Katherine Fretwell, who only left the field for about 3 plays the whole day. Did a great job getting a good catch and also holding up well in coverage and run support.

Sarah Griffiths, who had a good day on Dline, often getting double teamed. While it can feel frustrating sometimes, and it’s often overlooked as it isn’t the most glorious of things to be doing she allowed the line backers behind her to stay free and make plays. A true team effort.

Zoë Jane Wilder as well, having spent the pre-season learning running back, gets thrust into the game at Safety and did a great job. Definitely grew into the position during the day and made some excellent tackles coming down field. Also, switched out to Corner as well when needed – again a true team player.

Another huge thanks to club president Lois McConville who despite traveling up on her lonesome and unable to play due to injury recovery was a huge presence on the sideline cheering and supporting the team. The best cheerleader ever!

But turning to the MVPs now…

Offense MVP

On Offence, she made play after play and proved almost impossible to bring down once she had the ball in her hand and was running in space. Even running up the middle she seemed to always make the first defender miss. A rookie that made it look like she had been paying for a couple of years… Laura Johnson. Congratulations.

Defensive MVP

Defense is a tricky one as there were several outstanding performances. However, the one chosen was outstanding in coverage as well as time and again coming up to make a hit on the runner or making saving tackles coming all the way across the field. The effort shown all day typifies what we are all about and the pick 6 was well deserved… Congratulations Ruth Lewis

Overall MVP

Overall… In future, I am going to make sure that she is ill before every game if that is the level she plays at! A one woman wrecking machine all day that was seemingly in on everything. Not only that, but also the little things that go almost unnoticed such as holding the backside and playing her role. Again, I have no idea how she managed it but an absolute stellar performance… Congratulations Lauren Oldacre

Next Round…History in the making

Thank you so much to the Stallions for hosting and the teams for a fantastic day. First round down, next one to come with will be our HOME GAME on the 15th December! For the first time in history Wales will host a women’s American football tournament 😎 details to come THIS WEEK!


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