09 May 2024

Royal Navy Rugby Recognises Individual Brilliance

Written by Team ADoRs

As the 2023/ 24 season closes the RNRU acknowledges all the representative teams and singles out the individuals who exceeded expectations whether on the field or off it.

Proud Heritage, Exciting Future – awarded to Mne Ben Mallett.

The award was first made in 2010 at the end of season dinner, which coincided with the Navy team ending the Army’s eight-year winning run in Inter Service rugby. The purpose of the award was to acknowledge the exciting talent that exists within the wider Navy Senior XV squad, the talent, which if harnessed and developed, will provide Navy Rugby a future befitting of its proud heritage.

This year’s worthy recipient of the Proud Heritage, Exciting Future award in his debut season goes to Mne Ben Mallett, in the true spirit of the of this prestigious accolade, it recognises the emerging talent within Navy Rugby. Ben has demonstrated remarkable tenacity at the breakdown, his relentless work rate has given the team a significant edge in crucial moments of the game. His presence in the back row adds a dynamic dimension, doing a lot of the unseen work, allowing his team mates the opportunity to shine. Ben epitomises the core values of the award and is thoroughly deserving to receive this illustrious trophy, an exciting future in the Royal Navy jersey awaits.

Cossack Sword – awarded to Mne Kristan Dobson.

The Cossack Sword was presented to the Royal Navy Rugby Union by former player and selector, Captain Leigh Merrick Royal Navy and first awarded in 2000. The sword is for “Ground Gained and Held” and awarded at the end of each season to the player, from the Royal Navy Senior XV, whose performances over the course of the season best meet the battling qualities invoked by the heritage of the “Cossack Warrior”.

The Cossack Sword is nominated by the players to the individual whose performances over the course of the season have warranted recognition by their peers, this season’s deserving winner is Mne Kristan Dobson. Dobbo has been a constant performer throughout, whether that be on the wing or in the centre, he has a natural ability to break the line and change the momentum of matches. An instinctive try scorer, has seen him make an immediate impact in France, and against the RAF. Being honoured by his peers in this manner holds special significance, highlighting he has earned this recognition as this season’s standout player.

Most Improved Player – awarded to LAET Jasmine Abel.

Only joining the Senior squad this year and earning her first Cap in the heat of battle with our French adversary, Jas has had an incredible inaugural season with the team. From the outset she has brought maximum drive and energy. She is profoundly willing to listen and develop under the tutelage of senior players and coaches alike and is always ready to ask searching questions to better her game. With blossoming confidence, she is still surprising the coaching team daily with her talents. During games she elevates this to another level to show her teammates and opposition just what she is made of. Steadily becoming the backbone of the senior women’s backline, Jas’s potential is beyond exciting, and she is rightly rewarded as the Most Improved Player of 2024.

Players’ Player - awarded to LAET Jasmine Abel.

Jas has been recognised by her teammates for the hugely positive energy she brings to the squad – they simply love her vibe. A bundle of positive energy on and off the pitch, she is always smiling (even if she doesn’t know it) and is widely described as one of those people that simply brings everyone around her ‘up’. Her teammates have relished seeing her grow in confidence through every fixture, having shown the utmost resolve and tenacity. Having gotten stuck in since day one, in this short period, Jas has made a clear impact; not only is she a great rugby player, but she is also a

great addition to the team in every sense; a personality who has absolutely earnt the accolade of the 2024 Players’ Player.

Roger Sherratt Trophy for Most Valued Player – awarded to LA(AH) Yvonne Mealy.

All teams ultimately depend upon those individuals that are prepared to always go the extra mile for their teammates. Leading from the front in everything she does, Yvonne has been critical to the development of the senior team this season. She couldn’t work harder, digging deep on the pitch and in every training session to advance her individual skills and the collective performance of the whole group. She consistently demands the highest standards from everyone while always exemplifying them herself. She has gone to huge efforts to develop the forwards’ set piece and the overall precision and aggression of the entire team. A real anchor of the squad at every moment this season, Yvonne is a most deserving winner of the prized Roger Sherratt award as the Senior Women’s Most Valued Player 2024.

Mike Connolly Trophy – awarded to POAET Dane Waryck.

The Mike Connolly Award is given to the member of the Royal Navy Mariners’ Rugby Union Squad who has made the most impact through the season. This player will have shown leadership, commitment, and energy in the finest tradition of the over-35's game.

Across the spectrum of rugby, rare are those individuals who not only redefine their positions but elevate the dynamics of the game, encapsulating both the essence and the spirit of rugby. Dane Waryck is unequivocally such an individual, whose achievements over the 2023/ 24 Mariners’ season has thoroughly merited the distinguished Mike Connolly Award. This citation endeavours to encapsulate Waryck's standout performances, his unwavering dedication, and the indelible mark he has made on the field and with the team.

Waryck, playing as a centre and wing for the Mariners, has demonstrated a blend of agility, strength, and tactical acumen, making him an indispensable asset. Throughout the season, his unique ability to read the game and run that distinct inside line has led to numerous victories and highlights that will stay with the squad forever.

Images by Jarrad Hulm, Cinnabar Studios, Rob O’Kane.