A former Hartpury College student and current Gloucester-Hartpury women’s rugby player is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Zoe Aldcroft, having been nominated for the top prize at this year’s World Rugby Awards in December.
Alex Matthews joins two other Hartpury representatives in the nominations, with Maud Muir and Louis Rees-Zammit also nominated for an award. Since their inception in 2001, the World Rugby Awards have recognised and celebrated the achievements of those involved at the highest level of the game.
Alex Matthews is one of five players shortlisted for the hugely prestigious World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year, after a year of spectacular international appearances. The former Hartpury College A-level student made the move to Gloucester-Hartpury from Worcester Warriors this summer.
The back-row has won 56 caps since making her Red Roses debut in 2011 and was part of their 2014 Rugby World Cup winning squad. She won her 50th cap this year against France.
The 29-year-old is also a hugely successful sevens player, winning bronze in the 2018 Commonwealth Games with England, finished fourth at Tokyo 2020 with Team GB and was voted RPA World Sevens Player of the Year in 2018.
Alex was also an integral part of England's team that reached a sixth successive Rugby World Cup Final earlier this month, finishing their stellar run of form with a close defeat to New Zealand. Hartpury was well represented in the Women’s Rugby World Cup squads.
Prop Maud Muir also made an appearance in what was a relentless match against the Black Ferns. Maud is currently employed by Hartpury as a scrum coach. She only made her Red Roses’ debut in November 2021 but featured in all four of England’s 2021 autumn internationals and made her first start against the USA. Like Alex, Maud joined Gloucester-Hartpury this season, moving from Wasps.
At just 21 years of age, Muir has won 17 England caps, a Six Nations grand slam and been to a Rugby World Cup final. She’s nominated for the Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year in partnership with HSBC.
Louis Rees-Zammit, former Hartpury College student, is nominated for International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year after a stellar display of his formidable acceleration impressed the panel when Wales faced South Africa on 2 July. The former Rugby Players Association’s Young Player of the Year is a former student of the Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Sport (Performance and Excellence) in Rugby.
Tom Radcliffe, Director of Elite Sport at Hartpury University and Hartpury College, said: “To be nominated for these types of awards are very special. All three players have been outstanding during the last twelve months, whether they win the trophy or not.
“We follow all of our alumni with interest and these three individuals are role models for the next generation of dual career athletes starting and progressing through Hartpury University and Hartpury College.”
Returning to a physical format for the first time since the pandemic, the 22nd World Rugby Awards will be handed to their recipients on Sunday 20 November from 19:30 CET. Stars and legends from 15s and sevens will gather in the iconic Salle des Étoiles for a magnificent ceremony under the High Patronage of HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco.
Hartpury’s reputation for producing athletes across several sports comes from a well-established sports academy pathway. 10 competitive Sports Academies provide talented and driven students with an opportunity to train and compete at an elite level, whilst also gaining a high-quality education – ranked sixth for teaching quality in the UK, and top in the South West, in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023. Students benefit from access to Hartpury’s £10 million sports facilities, including human performance and biomechanics laboratories, rehabilitation and sports therapy suites, performance gyms, and 3G and grass pitches.
In addition, students may also be selected for the professional clubs on campus, including Hartpury University RFC and Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC, Hartpury University FC, Hartpury Futsal Club, Hartpury Netball Club, and Hartpury University and Hartpury College Boat Club, all of which compete in their relevant national governing body competitions.