Joanna Alphonso named conference MVP for third consecutive season

Joanna Alphonso named conference MVP for third consecutive season

2017 AUS women's rugby major award winners and all-stars announced
StFX's Joanna Alphonso named conference MVP for third consecutive season

(HALIFAX, N.S.) - Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2017 women's rugby major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference's four head coaches following the regular season.

Fourth-year StFX prop Joanna Alphonso has been named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player for the third consecutive season. This is the 11th time in the past 13 seasons that a member of the StFX X-Women has earned the honour.

StFX X-Women fly half Danielle Franada of Grand Prairie, Alta., has been named the AUS rookie of the year.

This year's recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award is UPEI's Sidney Corrigan of Charlottetown, P.E.I.

In his 19th season at the helm of the X-Women program, Coach Mike Cavanagh has been named the AUS coach of the year for the 10th time in his career.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Joanna Alphonso, StFX X-Women

Atlantic University Sport women's rugby's 2017 most valuable player is Joanna Alphonso of the first-place and U Sports No. 1-ranked StFX X-Women.

A fourth-year arts student from Ajax, Ont., this is Alphonso's third consecutive year being named the AUS most valuable player. She also earned AUS rookie of the year nods in her freshman season in 2014.

In addition to being named AUS MVP, Alphonso was named to the AUS all-star team today for the fourth consecutive year. In 2015 and 2016, she was also named a CIS (now U SPORTS) first team all-Canadian.

This season, Alphonso had 10 tries for 50 points for the X-Women.

"Jo is the epitome of a leader," said X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh. "She leads by example every time she walks on the field. She is one of the best all-around players I've ever coached. Her athletic ability, pure power and knowledge of the game make her a threat every time she touches the ball. A tremendous defender, Jo is the cornerstone to our defence."

Alphonso led the StFX X-Women to an undefeated 6-0 regular season record and a first-place finish in the AUS standings.

Her win marks the 13th time a StFX women's rugby player has been crowned conference MVP since the award's inception in 2000. Past winners include former X-Women standouts Emma Taylor (named MVP in 2014), Tyson Beukeboom (2012, 2011, 2010), Ghislaine Landry (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006), Danielle Goulet (2002) and Deanna Bennett (2000).

Alphonso now becomes this year's AUS nominee for USPORTS most valuable player. StFX's Landry was the last AUS student-athlete to take home this honour. She earned the accolade in 2008 and 2007.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Danielle Franada, StFX X-Women

StFX X-Women fly half Danielle Franada has been named the 2017 Atlantic University Sport  women's rugby rookie of the year.

An engineering student from Grand Prairie, Alta., Franada led the conference in scoring with 116 points this season.

In six regular season games played, she had six tries and 43 conversions.

"Dani is an amazing rugby player that can play any position in the back line," said X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh. "Her kicking skills are top notch and her ability to read the game makes her a vital part of our attack and defence."

This marks the 11th time a player from the StFX X-Women has been chosen as the AUS rookie of the year, and the first time since 2014 when current MVP Alphonso won the honour in her freshman season.

Franada now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS rookie of the year award.

The most recent AUS player to earn the national honour was StFX's Ghislaine Landry. She took home the award in 2006.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Cavanagh, StFX

For the 10th time in his 19-year career as the head coach of the StFX X-Women program, Mike Cavanagh has been chosen by his peers as the Atlantic University Sport women's rugby coach of the year.

Cavanagh has previously won the award in 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2002 and 2001. He was also named CIS (now U SPORTS) coach of the year in both 2012 and 2001.

This season, Cavanagh guided the U SPORTS No. 1-ranked and defending AUS and U SPORTS champion X-Women to a 6-0 record and their 15th first-place finish since the 2002 season.

His undefeated 2017 StFX squad allowed the fewest points against in six regular season games this year with 33.

Since 2002, Cavanagh's career record now stands at 93-3-2 in AUS regular season play. His overall record since 2002, including AUS playoff and CIS/U SPORTS championship contests, is now 138-31-5 heading into tomorrow's championship final.

His X-Women have lost only one Atlantic University Sport playoff game through 19 seasons, sporting an 18-1 record heading into this year's AUS championship. He has also guided the X-Women to 19 consecutive national championship appearances.

"We are very proud of Mike receiving this award for a remarkable 10th time," said StFX director of athletics, Leo MacPherson. "He never gets complacent when it comes to recruiting and coaching his teams to reach their full potential."

Cavanagh is one of only two AUS head coaches to be named the national coach of the year, earning the honour in both 2001 and 2012.

Acadia Axewomen head coach Matt Durant is the most recent Atlantic conference coach to win the national award. He took home the honour in 2013.


The 2017 student-athlete community service award recipient is Sidney Corrigan of the UPEI Panthers.

A fifth-year business student from Charlottetown, P.E.I., Corrigan plays at the number eight position. She played in five of six regular season games for the Panthers this season.

In the classroom, Corrigan has maintained a 3.9 GPA, earning her a spot on the Dean's list as well as U SPORTS academic all-Canadian status.

She is highly involved in the community, volunteering her time as an assistant coach with Ringette PEI at both the house league and provincial levels. This past year, she served as part of the coaching staff for the U16 provincial ringette team.

Corrigan also began coaching rugby this year at the high school level.

On campus, she has been part of the Varsity Leadership team at UPEI since its inception in 2014. She also volunteers as a student ambassador for the Keep it Social program—a campaign which aims to educate university students about the harms of high-risk drinking.

"Sidney, besides her community involvement with youth sport, has been a leader for the UPEI Panthers both on and off the field," said Panthers head coach John LaBoyne. "On the field she leads by example. She is our off-field captain, taking care of team business."

"Sidney is a kind, caring, energetic person who has been a great role model and ambassador for UPEI Athletics and Recreation," said UPEI athletic director Chris Huggan.

Corrigan is the third player from UPEI to be honoured with this award since its inception in 2009. She joins former Panthers standouts Shanda Mosher-Gallant and Lauren Chamberlain, who earned the honour in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

She now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the national award.

Both Mosher-Gallant and Chamberlain went on to win the CIS (now U SPORTS) honour in 2014 and 2015.


The following players have been named to the 2017 Atlantic University Sport women's rugby all-star team:

Front Row/Prop: Joanna Alphonso, StFX (4th year – Ajax, Ont.)
Front Row/Prop: Sam Lake, StFX (3rd year – Windsor, N.S.)
Front Row/Hooker: Lauren Melanson, Acadia (1st year – Halifax, N.S.)
Second row/Lock: Harley Tucker, Acadia (2nd year – Black Diamond, Alta.)
Second row/Lock: Niki Triantafillou, UPEI (4th year – Mermaid, P.E.I.)
Back row/Flanker: Danielle Wisen, Acadia (3rd year – Wellington, N.S.)
Back row/Flanker: Amy Hickey, UPEI (5th year – Summerville, N.B.)
Back row/#8: Miranda Sample, StFX (4th year – Havelock, Que.)
Scrum Half: Julie Naugler, Saint Mary's (2nd year – Stillwater Lake, N.S.)
Fly Half/Stand Off: Hannah Ellis, StFX (1st year – Halifax, N.S.)
Centre: Danielle Franada, StFX (1st year – Grand Prairie, Alta.)
Centre: Natasha Johnson, Acadia (2nd year – Williams Lake, B.C.)
Winger: June Beals, StFX (3rd year – North Preston, N.S.)
Winger: Alysha Corrigan, UPEI (4th year – Sherwood, P.E.I.)
Fullback: Jaelei Meyer, StFX (5th year – Carlyle, Sask.)


The 2017 Subway AUS Rugby Championship final is taking place tomorrow night, Friday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. in Antigonish, N.S.

The Acadia Axewomen hosted the UPEI Panthers last Friday, Oct. 20 in the championship semifinal game. The Axewomen came out on top 53-18 and earned a spot in tomorrow night's championship final.

Competing for the Birks Memorial Trophy at StFX's Oland Stadium will be the defending champion and host StFX X-Women (6-0, first place) and the Acadia Axewomen (4-2 and second in the regular season, 1-0 in playoff action).

A pre-game awards ceremony and the championship final will be webcast live at

The AUS will have two berths in this year's national championship. The X-Women and Axewomen will both compete in the 2017 U SPORTS Women's Rugby Championships Nov. 2-5 at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alta.

2017 AUS women's rugby final standings:

2017 AUS women's rugby final statistics:

For more information on the 2017 national women's rugby championship, please visit the official website at: