Rugby World Cup winners Maggie Alphonsi and Alex Matthews honoured by University

Two stars of the World Cup winning England Women’s Rugby Squad, together with an RFU stalwart, have been recognised by the University of Roehampton for their great contribution to the sport, less than two months before London hosts the Rugby World Cup in Twickenham.

Posted: 5 August 2015

image for news story Rugby World Cup winners Maggie Alphonsi and Alex Matthews honoured by University
Former England rugby player and Roehampton graduate Maggie Alphonsi receives her award from Chancellor Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

London-born Maggie Alphonsi and Alex Matthews, who both helped the team win the World Cup last year were presented with the inaugural Chancellor’s Award for Alumni Achievement by Dame Jacqueline Wilson, the University’s Chancellor. Both are graduates of the University: Alphonsi secured an MSc in Sports and Exercise Science in 2007 while Matthews completed a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science in the same subject only 12 months ago. She now plays club rugby for west London side Richmond.

In addition, Bob Reeves, the 2013-14 national President of the Rugby Football Union received an honorary doctorate, after more than 40 years of service to the sport. Mr Reeves is a founder director of the Foundation for Leadership Through Sport and developed the first master’s programme in Exercise and Health Science in the UK. He has been involved with the RFU in a number of senior roles for many years.

Matthews and Alphonsi were proposed for the Chancellor’s Award by Siobhan Kelly, President of Roehampton Students’ Union, while Mr Reeves was proposed by Dr Ian Pickup a former Director at the University.

Alphonsi described the graduation ceremony as a ‘top afternoon’ on twitter, and told the audience of around 300 students at the Royal Festival Hall: “I’m so proud to receive this award, and congratulations to all my fellow graduates. You should look back at Roehampton with fond memories, and look forward to the future with excitement.”

She offered her own advice to students preparing to start finding jobs after graduation:

  • Set goals for yourself: If you don’t, how do you know where you’re going?
  • Challenge yourself: Don’t accept just being good or average.
  • Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and what to help you achieve your goals.
  • Live in the moment.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul O’Prey congratulated the player, who is now hoping to compete in the shot put at the 2016 Olympics, saying: “Your university is very proud of you”.

Awards and honorary doctorates are presented by the University to a small number of eminent people each year in recognition of their outstanding achievement or distinction in a specific field or within public life. They are presented during the University’s annual graduation week as an inspiration to students receiving their own qualifications.

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