A member of staff at Nescot was named ‘Prop Star of the Year’ at Twickenham on Thursday (December 7), in the first year of a new national rugby competition aimed at honouring community heroes.
Rhiannon Kennedy, who plays for Streatham-Croydon RFC, received the award from former England captain Martin Johnson at half time in the annual varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge.
“I was really surprised even to be shortlisted, so it felt really surreal to win,” said Rhiannon, an IT Technician at Nescot.
“I’d brought my dad with me to see the match, so it was amazing that he got to see me on the pitch at Twickenham after all those weekends he took me to rugby training when I was young.”
Rhiannon, who joined Streatham-Croydon RFC just 18 months ago, was the only woman to be shortlisted, and said she’d been humbled by the support shown to her by fellow female players.
“For me, it shows what women’s rugby is all about. Everyone supports each other, and everyone was rooting for me to do well. My club has a great community, and the players are like family to me.”
Frances Rutter, Principal and CEO of Nescot, said: “To win this nationwide competition is a great achievement; we’re really thrilled for Rhiannon.”
The competition was launched by sports clothing and equipment company Rhino, aimed at celebrating ‘the grassroots prop that goes above and beyond’.
“Rhiannon is a leader, not just on the women’s team but across the entire club,” said Streatham-Croydon coach Nick Verdino, in a video made after Rhiannon was shortlisted.
“Above and beyond is basically what she does.”
Club captain Millie Ross added: “She’s everything that women’s rugby is about, and she’s everything that rugby is about.”
More than 40 people were nominated, a judging panel comprising national rugby stars Adam Jones, Jason Leonard and Rocky Clark whittled the list down to three, with the public voting for the winner.
“Rhiannon is a well-deserved winner,” said Rocky Clark. “Her commitment to the club and helping others is the perfect attitude of a prop star.”
Joining Rhiannon at Twickenham were Jon Paul Hardman, of Bolton RUFC, and Beckenham RFC’s James Cleverly.