Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe’s world-class ability was underlined last night in Biarritz where she received the Gilbert Top Try Scorer award and was selected in the HSBC Dream Team for the overall 2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
Ireland’s record Sevens try scorer ended the season with a terrific haul of 35 tries in 33 matches, putting her top of the pile just ahead of Canada’s Bianca Farella (34). Murphy Crowe is the first northern Hemisphere player to win the coveted global try-scoring accolade.
The 24-year-old speedster captained Ireland at the Langford and Biarritz tournaments in Lucy Mulhall’s injury-enforced absence, and was typically modest afterwards as she reflected on a stellar campaign which has seen her emerge as the most potent winger on the circuit – finishing ahead of the best from series champions New Zealand and fellow Olympic qualifiers USA, Canada and Australia.
“This award means a lot to me and the team,” she said. “We’ve worked very, very hard throughout the season. We started it off in Colorado on a high back in October. I started off on a high, playing really, really well, and getting the performances we wanted. It kept going up and up throughout the season.
“Unfortunately the end of the season ended up with a low (12th place in Biarritz), but look, this is a positive that we can take from it – that we can score this many tries and move the ball and put it into space when we need to.”
Despite a couple of disappointing placings in the final two legs, the Ireland Women claimed their highest ever overall ranking of eighth, with a new points high of 41 across the six tournaments. Anthony Eddy’s side reached four Cup quarter-finals in all, and made history in Sydney with a Cup semi-final appearance and a fourth-place finish.
This season’s series was the highest try-scoring one in the history of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, with 1155 tries scored. This surpasses the previous record of 1142 in 2014/15. Over a third of Ireland’s 90 tries were scored by Murphy Crowe whose best tally was nine in Sydney in February.
The Tipperary native’s ultra-consistent scoring helped to secure her place in the star-studded HSBC Dream Team for 2018/19, which takes into consideration players’ performances across the season and previous nominations in the individual tournament dream teams.
Murphy Crowe was chosen along with the New Zealand trio of Sarah Hirini, Ruby Tui and Tyla Nathan-Wong, Canadian duo Brittany Benn and Ghislaine Landry, and France’s Anne-Cecile Ciofani. This unexpected second award has her hungry to achieve more in the green jersey as the squad chases Olympic qualification in the coming weeks.
“It’s a huge honour, I’m absolutely shocked. I didn’t expect to be named amongst all those amazing players that were picked. It’s just a huge achievement for me. I work very, very hard and I know the girls will vouch for me. But I try my best game-on-game, and training days too, I try to work really, really hard. And this is the recognition I get for that.
“This weekend was disappointing. We had a disappointing end to Canada as well, so it’s very, very vital that we regroup this coming week and build towards two really big tournaments that we have this summer in Marcoussis (the first tournament in the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series) and the Olympic qualifiers in Kazan in mid-July.
“It’s very, very important that we get performances out of both those tournaments. That’s what we want to finish off the year with – the performances to get us to the place that we want to be,” she added.
Two Ireland players finished high up in the overall DHL Performance Tracker for the series, which was topped by Russia captain Alena Mikhaltsova (259 points). Murphy Crowe was third on 239 points (60 tackles/37 breaks/17 offloads/125 carries) with teenage talent Eve Higgins claiming fifth spot on 228 points (52 tackles/21 breaks/11 offloads/144 carries).
2018/19 HSBC WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES AWARD WINNERS:
Gilbert Top Try Scorer: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Ireland)
Rookie of the Year: Lide Erbina (Spain)
Fair Play Award: New Zealand
Tag Heuer Don’t Crack Under Pressure Award: Ghislaine Landry (Canada)
DHL Impact Player: Alena Mikhaltsova (Russia)
Capgemini Coach of the Series: Chris Brown (USA)
UL Mark of Excellence: France
HSBC Dream Team: Sarah Hirini (New Zealand), Brittany Benn (Canada), Ruby Tui (New Zealand), Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand), Ghislaine Landry (Canada), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Ireland), Anne-Cecile Ciofani (France)
For a full round-up of the award winners, click here.