The Army Rugby Union’s successes over the past year have been recognised with three players being shortlisted for the 2022 Army Sport Awards.
Bdr Bethan Dainton (RA) is nominated for Sportswoman of the Year, a reflection of some outstanding individual achievements in team sports. After becoming the first Military woman to play for the Barbarians in late 2021, Bdr Dainton went on to not just help the Army re-gain the Inter-Services Championship title as the team’s vice-captain – scoring two tries in the win over the Royal Navy at Twickenham – but also became a dual code international when she played for Wales Rugby League against England in June.
In the last fortnight Bdr Dainton has been in New Zealand as part of the UKAF team competing in the inaugural International Defence Force Women’s World Cup, scoring in the game against Fiji.
This is all in addition to her matches with Harlequins in the Premier 15s, outings for the Army Rugby League team in Super League South, as well as her day-to-day duties with the Royal Artillery.
Bdr Dainton became the first service woman to be capped by the World famous Barbarians in November 2021 and was Vice Captain of the winning 2022 Inter Service Army Women’s squad.
Images © Neil Kennedy (Left) Army v Navy Match (Right)
There are two players shortlisted for the Rising Star Award.
This time last year Spr Jack Johnson (RE) was preparing for his first Under-23 Inter-Services Championship. A few weeks later his late kick against the RAF had won that tournament for the red shirts, capping a pair of player of the match performances in the process.
Called up for the senior squad, Spr Johnson was then player of the match in the Inter-Services Championship win over the RAF at Kingsholm and kept his cool to help steer the Army to a memorable come-from-behind win over the Royal Navy at Twickenham to win his second Inter-Services Championship of the season.
The season finished with Spr Johnson playing a full part in the Sappers’ first Corps Championship title in seven seasons.
Spr Johnson, RE had a perfect 2021-22 season winning the Inter Service titles with both the Army U23s and Army Senior Men’s XV.
Images © Army Rugby Union (Left) Army v Navy Match (Left)
Pte Courtney Pursglove (RLC) has also had a stellar 2022. The winger came into the Women’s Senior squad ahead of the Inter-Services Championship and marked her red shirt debut with a two-try performance against the RAF at Kingsholm.
There was even more to come at Twickenham as Pte Pursglove scored a memorable hat-trick of tries as well as showing her all-round ability with several conversions as the red shirts sealed the title.
Pte Pursglove is also a regular in the Army Sevens team, and was called up to the England national squad which played a number of exhibition matches during the London leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in May. She then put pen to paper with Premier 15s outfit Sale Sharks Women, marking her first start for the club by scoring two tries in the Allianz Cup win over Wasps.
An outstanding performance across the 2022 Inter Service competition earned Pte Pursglove, RLC a call up to trial with England 7s.
Images © Army v Navy Match (Left) Neil Kennedy (Right)
ARU Chief Operating Office, Chris Fowke, congratulated the trio on their nominations.
“Rugby is the ultimate team sport and it can be hard to receive individual nominations for end-of-year awards, so we’re delighted to see three of our players be shortlisted for the Army Sport Awards,” he commented.
“Bethan thoroughly deserves her nomination. She impresses whenever she takes to the field, regardless of whether she is playing in a development game or at Twickenham. Equally important is the role she has played to establish a positive culture within the Women’s team, supporting the coaches and inspiring the younger and more inexperienced players around her.
“Meanwhile JJ and Courtney showed that you can have a big impact on the Inter-Services Championship even if you are winning your first Army cap. They were given their opportunities by the Senior team coaches and grabbed them with both hands, and they have the potential to be even better players in the future.
“Many congratulations to the three players from everyone in the ARU!”
The awards will be handed out at RMA Sandhurst on November 17th.
Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks
Header and Featured Image © Army Sport Control Board – Alligin Photography