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Force introduce new awards for Super W women

In a year of significant progress for the Western Force Super W side, the club is proud to announce the women’s best and fairest award will be named the Rebecca Clough Medal.

The Western Force Awards Night, formerly known as the Nathan Sharpe Medal Awards Night, will see the women’s team acknowledged alongside the Super Rugby Pacific side to recognise the achievements of the squad and marks a new chapter in the club’s history.

The legacy of Nathan Sharpe, the Western Force’s inaugural captain and iconic Wallaby, will continue to be honoured. The prestigious Nathan Sharpe Medal remains the most coveted accolade for the men’s team, as the name of the best and fairest award.

In 2022, the Force has made major strides in its efforts to support and grow the women’s game.

In February, the club announced a professional payment structure in an Australian rugby first. The new structure provides equal high-performance and strategic resources under the direction of Matt Hodgson (General Manager of Rugby), which will be enhanced with the formation of the women’s academy in 2023.

The presentation of the Super W awards at the annual Awards Night continues the club’s progress in ensuring inclusivity throughout the organisation.

Rebecca Clough, who remains a vital figure within the squad, is not only a legend of the Western Force, but women’s rugby in Australia.

Having played in three World Cup campaigns for the Wallaroos (2010, 2014 and 2017), Clough has been a leading force for the national team earning 24 Test caps. Having retired from international duties, Clough sits equal second on the all-time capped list for the Wallaroos.

After moving to Perth from Sydney almost 14 years ago, the towering lock has represented Cottesloe, RugbyWA and the Western Force at the highest level throughout her esteemed career.

Raised in a family dedicated to the growth of rugby, Clough brings remarkable passion for inspiring future generations, including her one-year-old son.

A player whose leadership extends beyond the field, Clough’s elite experience and professionalism has seen her heralded as a role model within the rugby community.

The honour to present a medal at the Western Force Awards night came as a pleasant surprise, and one Clough is especially looking forward to.

This is the greatest honour of my career. I was blown away when Tony Lewis (Western Force Chief Executive Officer) told me. I’m so grateful and thankful for this. I just can’t believe it,” Clough said.

“I can’t begin to compare myself to Nathan Sharpe. He was a fantastic Western Force player and an incredible Wallaby.

"Nathan has been an inspiration to me all through my childhood and career, so to even be included in the same league as someone like him is surreal. When I think about all the young girls playing rugby, I hope this gives them something to aspire to.

“There are many women who created this pathway for us to be where we are now, and this represents all that they have done. It is a huge step forward for women’s rugby in WA.

“Having a club awards night to celebrate us alongside the men shows that we can be one club and develop mutual appreciation between the men and women of this sport.”

The first ever recipient of the Rebecca Clough Medal will be presented at the 2022 Western Force Awards Night on Friday, June 24.

In further firsts for the Force, the Nicola Forrest Force Woman and Debby Hodgkinson Rising Star awards will be awarded on the night.

Nicola Forrest AO is the Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Minderoo Foundation and Director of the Tattarang Group. Forrest’s outstanding contributions to create positive change for children, the arts, women, and communities has her recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Forrest is a leading voice for equality in Australia and has played a fundamental role in the Force’s progress.

Debby Hodgkinson is a pioneer of the women’s game having won the inaugural 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens with Australia and winning every accolade on offer in a historic year.

During her illustrious career, which included a 2010 Women’s World Cup campaign with the Wallaroos, Hodgkinson displayed the utmost commitment and resilience.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Lewis is committed to investing in the development and pathways for women’s rugby.

“We started our progress by looking at the costs involved for the players themselves to play Super W and for the Wallaroos. We needed to ensure they were compensated whilst giving them full access to our high-performance resources,” Lewis said.

“This was achieved through the support of Andrew and Nicola Forrest, who passionately drove us towards a ground-breaking solution. A full integration into our Awards Night is a natural next step.

“The process of integrating the Awards Night was done in consultation with Rebecca. During discussions, she never put herself forward for the naming of the award, which is a testament to her character.

“After much consultation with Matt Hodgson, we agreed that Rebecca was the right person to honour.

“Rebecca is an outstanding player and an inspiration. We hope to see many Western Australian women follow in her footsteps.”