Bennett-Smith Completes Sherratt Backrow

Following in the footsteps of blindside flanker Sophie Roseamon and last season’s winner, openside Charlie Fredrickson, Paula Bennett-Smith completes the backrow becoming the first Number 8 and the sixth winner of the Roger Sherratt Memorial Trophy. 

The Roger Sherratt Memorial Trophy is the most prestigious award in RN Women’s rugby and is presented annually to the most valuable player in the RN Women’s squad.  This season’s winner, Paula Bennett-Smith, was captain of the side when Roger Sherratt’s support and investment began to accelerate the growth and professionalism of the RN Women’s Representative side.  Throughout this period Paula has been a mainstay of the team both on and off the field.  Last year she returned from a couple of years away from the team, due to professional commitments, to win her cap against the Royal Air Force.  This year she started as a replacement but forced her way in to the starting XV against the Army Women, through the continued quality of her play.

With seventeen Inter Services appearances to her name and two periods as RN Women captain it is not difficult to work out that Paula is one of the more senior players in the RN Women squad.  However her work ethic and dedication remain the standard to which others must aspire.  Her commitment to the cause remains as powerful as ever and was once more typified in the weekend’s game against the Army.  Carrying an injury into the game she probably did not plan to play the fully eighty minutes but any plans were necessarily changed when Charlie Fredrickson left the field injured.  Though the game did not give her many opportunities to make her trademark ball carries, her defence remained as solid as ever from the first to the final whistle.  It was only when the referee blew for the end of the game that her legs won the battle over her mind and tiredness visibly took its toll.

A worthy winner of the trophy which was presented by RNRU Vice President RAdm Key after the match, to a now recovering Bennett-Smith resplendent with a growing ‘shiner’, her second trophy from another battling and forthright performance in the RN Women’s shirt.

Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & © Lee Crabb

Paula Bennett-Smith receives the Roger Sherratt Memorial Trophy from RAdm Key
Not often seen without her trademark scrum gap Paula Bennett-Smith looks to off load out the tackle in Toulon
Taking the game to the Air Force
Marshalling the defence against the Army Women
Once more unto the breach – getting ready to take carry the ball from a Navy free kick
Final whistle and the effects of a hard defencive display have taken their toll