England forward Poppy Cleall has been named 2021 Women’s Six Nations player of the championship after winning the first-ever public vote for the Guinness award. Cleall was nominated alongside fellow England forward Zoe Aldcroft and Caroline Boujard of France by a panel featuring the head coaches, captains and an equal representation of members of the media from all six competing nations.
She becomes the second-ever winner of the award, following in the footsteps of Emily Scarratt. Cleall was the overwhelming choice of fans, winning 62 per cent of over 12,000 votes cast. The 28-year-old was a force to be reckoned with at the back of the England scrum, winning player of the match against Scotland and following up with the match-winning try and another player of the match award in the final against France.
Cleal said: “It’s a huge honour to be named player of the championship. I’m not only a rugby player but a massive rugby fan and have been in awe of some of the games and moments in this tournament. It’s been such fun and a great occasion in women’s rugby to be a part of.
“It’s already a huge moment in my career to win back-to-back titles with this team but to win this award is thanks to all the hard work of those around me from my coaches, teammates and my family. Representing England is a massive honour and one I hope I do proud.
“This tournament has been one-of-a-kind and I hope other female rugby players and athletes are given the same opportunity to be the best they can be.”
“That’s one of the moments that will live forever in my head but maybe in his it has completely gone."
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 24, 2021
Six Nations CEO Ben Morel added: “Massive congratulations to Poppy on an outstanding championship. She is an incredible athlete who performed consistently throughout and also turned the biggest match of the year in her team’s favour. It’s great that so many fans have voted to recognise her outstanding contribution to England’s success.
“It was also fantastic to witness a rise in TV audiences and stronger than ever engagement on our digital platforms. I would like to thank everyone who watched matches, played fantasy rugby and took the time to vote. You are helping us grow women’s rugby and give these brilliant players the platform they deserve.”
'In primary school it was fine. I played football with the boys & rugby, I was in their team, but when it got to secondary that is when I did get called names for it' @zoeharrison123 talks to @heagneyl ??? about bullying, kicking & having the last laugh https://t.co/LKF95HE0KF
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 28, 2021
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