Category: Sapphire Series 2018

Sapphire Series 2018

Sapphire 2018 awards ceremony

It was an incredible night on Saturday at our end of year awards ceremony! Here is a review from our coaches of our MVP winners for Sapphire Series 2018…

One of the reasons why this club is going strength to strength is because a lot of people are doing a lot of different things. We were developing really quickly, throwing a lot of stuff at the team this year. We had injuries, different absences, and we were being forced to especially on offense to go into games with one recognisable receiver, as well as no running back. It’s not what you usually go into a game with.

But overall, the fact that the team were able to respond the way that they did, putting new things in, trying things out (and often at the drop of a hat), for us it makes it that much easier – so the whole team should all be proud of themselves of what they’ve done this year, and we’ve really set the foundation now to go on next year.


On to the the awards…

Coaches’ Player – Zoe John

This is a new award for this year. The coaches player is not about the best player, it’s about the intangibles that go around being part of the team, and there was quite a debate as to who should get this. As a coaching staff we were seeing all these different things by players, and at one point there was a five way race. Then down to three…

One player in particular was said to be one if not the most coachable players on the team, and for one of the coaches, one of the most coachable players that he’d been around in football over the course of this playing and coaching careers. That was Holly – always learning, carrying on. This was was definitely recognised by the coaching staff.

The other person in the final three was someone who kept going, kept trying, kept working with everything. She kept wanting to know more “what am I doing?”, “how can I get better?”, “what can I improve?”. We’ve asked her to play different roles within the team as well, and she responded really, really well to that and put on some really great performances. That player was Mandy.

The final person and the winner of the overall coaches player is again someone who throws herself completely into the squad. She’s in and around everything, and a lot of the feedback that we get via different routes is that she’s always helping people, always trying to make other people around her better. The winner of the coaches’ player is Zoe.


Offensive MVP – Maria Mercedes May

There’s been a lot great individual performances this year on offense. We went in wanting to do a particular thing which we were then unable to do, and we were effectively adjusting on the fly. Which, again, is never an easy thing to do. Getting Kira to run the offense in training and even in a game isn’t easy, and one of the things we want to say again is we’re trying to give players the knowledge so that they can respond. We had a lot of players on the offense doing this and really stepping up, and also giving a solid performance so that we could continue to compete.

But the winner of the offensive MVP,  not just in respect of the film but in the feedback as well from different players and things we hear throughout the year as well, is a particular player who not only gives a solid level performance every single time that’s of a high level, she’s also helping other people. Always trying to get the best of people that’s around her. And that’s one of the reasons really why she’s getting this award – so the overall offensive MVP is Maria. (Maria was unable to make the award ceremony, but Simon did a smashing job at posing…)



Lineman MVP – Jamillah Robinson-Heather

Another new award for the year, again, we had a lot of good performances on the line on both sides of the ball. It is an area in which we feel quite confident in, and we threw a lot of stuff at the line with a lot of different blocking schemes, really trying to put a lot of stuff. Both sides of the ball we really started to get there, which will be another major strength in the Valkyries going forwards. But, the person who’s won line MVP has had quite a dominant season. Right from the start she was noted by other people from other teams, and we were getting people coming to the coaches, and making comments about this player. This was the case right back from Topaz all the way through into Sapphire Series. The winner of the line award is Jam.



Defensive MVP – Lauren Oldacre

We were really, really proud of our defense this year. I think we went in with a really strong unit, and unfortunately we had injuries and we had to adjust, and it’s never an easy thing to start with a completely new set – especially with no practice. We think every player stepped up and gave us the option to compete like that. It was a really hard choice to actually do the MVP, though there’s a couple of players we’re going to mention who we were very impressed with.

For instance, Mandy. We think she had great defensive season. We asked her to play in two roles that’s she’s never trained in, and she showed a lot of skill and a lot of determination, and she made me really proud of having such a determined player who just picked it up and ran with it. Another person was Sarah who had hardly any training sessions and none on the defense and all she had to go on for this position was a classroom session. We think she did a wonderful job.

The defensive player that we’ve chosen we also ask quite a lot of. We’ve asked her to play more than one role, and she shows a lot of determination and aggression in her play. It was such a pleasure to watch her, she was getting better with each game, her tackles were getting more aggressive, better at reading the opposition, and knowing where the play is going to. So it’s our pleasure to give the defensive award to Lauren.



Overall MVP – Ruth Lewis

Although our overall MVP is nominated early for the the nomination of Sapphire Series MVP, it’s important to acknowledge the reasoning for the nomination. This is someone that gives everything in every single play. When you’ve got opposition defences screaming out where she is on the field and rotating their entire defense to the side of the field to where she is standing, you know that she is a key player. You know that she’s given oppositions a hard time, and to still score the touchdowns that she is scoring with the entire defense watching her says a lot about that. Also then coming across to defense and having to pick up more and more on defense as well, and towards the end pretty much involved in all the tackles at one point – again, throwing herself into a new role and giving everything at that. The tackles, the chases the pursuits – and it’s not easy playing both ways as corner and receiver. So overall MVP is Ruth.



Valkyries’ Valkyrie – Zoe John

For the coaches this is the most important award where most are concerned, because this is the one where we ask who the players believe epitomizes what it means to be a Valkyrie. And what was great was that there was eight people who were nominated for this, and it was almost a four way tie. Looking at some of the comments there was a general theme, and what’s great is that the general theme is about how supportive everyone is. It’s one of the those important things to our culture as a club that we are seen as that family type atmosphere, so this was brilliant. So just picking out a few comments, there’s a couple for Sheryl ‘Shed’ “for being a good shed”, as well as for her leadership as Defensive Captain. Maria, again, for bringing in the new players onto the line and helping them. Holly with some votes, for helping players and being very supportive behind the scenes, Kira for “keeping everything upbeat and taking everything in her stride”, Jam for keeping things up and asking question being involved, and an overall “good egg”. Lois as well for her knowledge, still coming to games and training even though she has one leg, still on the side-lines, being involved. Ruth as well, helping others and and calming nerves. It really is so positive to hear everyone’s comments.

The person who has won the award this year has received comments alongside others around the help she gives, but also in that the soul of the team. She takes on all of the challenges that she’s faced, and she’s there for teammates who are injured. A good all-round teammate and she does so much for the team, too. The Valkyries’ Valkyrie this year is Zoe.


The Flump award : Lois and Jam

Let’s not forget an additional new award for Sapphire Series 2018, the ‘Flump’ award. The ‘Flump’ award is given at the end of each game to the person who made the biggest ‘flump’. The overall Flump award this year was a difficult decision…but it was decided to be a joint winning between Lois for tearing her ACL in the first first (and not even bothering to run for a touchdown may we add…) and Jam, for tearing her achilles without realising, and returning to play in Sapphire Round 4 and practically obliterated it. **Also need to point out how two players can swear a leg brace and a big heckin’ leg boot and still make it look super fly…**



Well done to all of the team for what they have accomplished this year. Going up to 7s in just our second year of tackle was a big leap, and we couldn’t be more proud of you!

With many thanks to O’Neill’s St. Mary Street Cardiff for hosting our event and putting on a fantastic spread!


Sapphire Series 2018

Sapphire Series 2018: Final Round recap and MVPs

The season feels like it’s over far too soon! It’s been an amazing journey for the Cardiff Valkyries, and the final round of Sapphire certainly went out with a bang…


Cardiff Valkyries V Chester Romans

First game of the day was against Chester Romans. We knew it was going to be a give-all game. We showed out ability to potentially take the game, and we felt ready.

With some great long threat passes by Ruth ‘The Gazelle’ Lewis as well as Elleanor ‘The Fist’ O’connell we were able to move the ball yards from the end zone. Line-backer turned running back for the last two games, Zoe ‘Noo Noo’ John scored the first touchdown of the game. Receiving the snap and with the train of offensive lineman, Zoe was able to rush into the end zone, and repeated again for the extra point. This was no easy fight however, pushing through the Roman’s defense who proving to be a chaotic force throughout the game.

We were on a high, and the game continued as our last meeting with Chester with their offense scoring soon after.  But with the energy going from the first touch down the offense maintained the positive ‘force’ with Kira ‘QB1 Kenobi’ Walker, who scored another touchdown with 20/30 yard run into the end zone. More long throws and catches from receivers Ruth and Elleanor gave chance to score again. However, with an unfortunate fumble a yard away from the end zone we turned over the board.

The Valkyries’ defense put out some hard hits for Chester, with some great all-out efforts a well in both games from O-line turned D-line players, with Sarah Griffiths at nose tackle and Mandy as defensive end.  However Chester’s strong run game and talents proved to find the spaces on the field, scoring up the points.

Cardiff Valkyries 13 – Chester Romans 32

Cardiff Valkyries V Teeside Steelers

Our first time playing Teeside Steelers this season we weren’t sure what to expect. From 5 aside we remember a tough team who were threatening on both sides of the ball. But we were excited, and with the snow calming down we were looking forward to a bit of a warmer game!

On the offense, center Maria May continued some great snaps under pressure and in appalling conditions, and with the run we were able to move the ball more than the last game with some hard hitting yards by Zoe, but not enough to get through first down. Teeside’s defense certainly proved to be on point, and Ruth being Sapphire nominated MVP she was well covered. Teeside’s defense also patted down some potentially long haul throws, and despite some brilliant catches by both Elleanor and Ruth, and runs by Kira, we just couldn’t reach the yards needed to score. A confusion over a legitimate fumble led to Teeside’s first score while on defense, and an interception made my Teeside rooked up for another touchdown.

The Valkyries defense did well to stop out some touchdowns for Teeside, also introducing a 5 line defense from line-backers Holly Dame and Ceri Yeoman who stepped up to the task. A pat down from Ruth saved another potential touchdown for Teeside, and sending pressure onto their line reduce some potentially dangerous runs.

Cardiff Valkyries 0 – Teeside Steelers 24


Final Round MVPs

There is no doubt that each and every Valkyrie put in a hard effort in this final round. With most playing both sides of the ball, and weather conditions seemingly similar to an episode of Game of Thrones at The Wall, it was a very long day! However, there are two stand-out performances given these conditions…

Offensive MVP = Maria May
It was a horrible day to play centre. Wind and snow made things extremely difficult but every snap was on the money allowing the rest of the offence to function. Also had a solid day blocking




Defensive = Ruth Lewis
Both Chester and Teesside had known strike threats at WR but Ruth shut them both down through the games making them a non-factor. Ruth also had a couple of covering tackles and strong hustle.


Well done MVPs! 👏


For now…

As a team we have everything to be proud of. When you have comments made by other teams about their enjoyment of our progress, our passion, and developing skills, you can’t really ask for more. We have shown through the course of this year’s Sapphire Series that we have the potential to cause trouble. Only our second year in existence we are growing, and through the course of this year there is going to be so much more to learn and give.

Thank you all to the teams we have played against for some really smashing games! Bring on Sapphire 2019!

We hope to have Valkyries represent at the GB flag trials as well as Diamond series, so our football adventures are still certianly ongoing! Watch this space!



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  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!


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