Huge success for Loughborough at Rugby Players Association (RPA) awards

Sadia Kabeya alongside Rhys Edwards

Sadia Kabeya (R) alongside Rhys Edwards (L), Loughborough University's Director of Rugby. Image provided by Ben Lumley.

Loughborough-linked rugby players collected numerous accolades at this year’s Rugby Players Association (RPA) Awards, cementing the University’s first-class reputation of developing athletes in the sport.

Current students Sadia Kabeya (Sport Science, Coaching and Physical Education) and Freddie Steward (Economics) both picked up the star award of the evening, winning ‘England Player of the Year’ in both the Women’s and Men’s category respectively.

Loughborough Lightning’s Kabeya has been in fine form throughout the campaign, consistency impressing in both the Allianz Premier 15s and on the international stage.

Steward, 22, is now a regular starter in the Men’s national side and has made 18 appearances for England since making his debut in 2021.

freddie steward

Loughborough and England's Freddie Steward.

Elsewhere, Sarah Hunter, the Loughborough alumna and former Lightning player and coach, was inducted into the RPA Hall of Fame for her services to rugby.

Lightning’s Emily Scarratt also received the ‘RPA Special Merit Award’ for reaching 100 caps for England.

To conclude an incredible night for Lightning and the wider University, Abi Burton was awarded the ‘RPA Blyth Spirit Award’ for her strength in coming back from a serious illness and returning to rugby.

Burton, 23, spent 25 days in a coma and was wrongly sectioned for 26 days with an immune disorder earlier this year.

James Gallagher, Rugby Programme Manager, Loughborough University said: “We’re all incredibly proud of everyone linked to Loughborough who collected an RPA award. Each winner has done incredible things for the sport at the very highest level and to be recognised in this way is such an honour for them.

“The development of players – and people – on the rugby programme is one of our core values. To see these players progress and pick up these accolades is wonderful for them as individuals and for us as a programme.”

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