Thursday, July 5, 2012 – Submitted by Meghan Mutrie

Founded four years ago, the Colette McAuley Award (CMA) recognizes women’s rugby players who embody the sport and give back to it in the true spirit of the game.

For the fourth year in a row, the CMA committee – including its namesake – has been tasked with having to cull a very high-minded list of nominees down to a single recipient.

Three names were submitted this year by the four provincial unions competing at the NWL Championships (no nomination was received from Quebec) – Meg Howat (ON), Maria Jaworski (AB) and Barbara Mervin (BC).

This year’s nominees caused the most discussion amongst the CMA committee as they were all merited to receive the personal cheque for $1000, interest earned from the endowed Colette McAuley Fund through the Canadian Rugby Foundation. There is a common thread amongst all of the names submitted since 2009; they are good people, not just around the pitch but also away from it in their everyday lives.

With that in mind, it is a pleasure to announce Meg Howat as the 2012 Colette McAuley Award recipient.

Howat, or Howie, began her rugby career at Lawrence Park High School and has since come full circle. After successfully working her way through the various age grades, earning a few championships, caps and accolades, she is now a coach back where she started in high school, giving back to the sport in kind.

Howie has amassed an extensive list of contributions to the promotion of women’s rugby in Canada. Especially venerable to the provincial union that raised her as a rugby player, a peer from the ORU describes Howie as their “biggest fan.”

“She is our biggest fan, our biggest advocate and our women’s program would not be where it is today without her. Her endeavours, alongside Rugby Canada, have led to countless opportunities for our program, not only to raise funds but to reach the nation on a much broader spectrum.

“Meg is a role model for all women playing rugby in Canada.”

Though they didn’t win, the other nominees’ efforts should not be overlooked.

Maria Jaworski, originally from Quebec but nominated by Alberta, split her early days between the two provinces and has bullishly earned her place on the National Senior Women’s Team. Now hanging her hat in Calgary, she has stepped up her leadership presence amongst her team and even though she is younger, has already started getting involved in the rugby community and is a driving force behind the Women’s Howler’s team.

Jaworski’s Alberta coaches believe she is exactly the type of national team athlete who already is and will continue to selflessly give back to rugby.

Barbara Mervin, originally from Ontario but now resides permanently in BC, possesses a fierce loyalty to rugby, its community and her teammates. This same passion materializes on the field (she has at least one game-changing hit every 80 minutes) but she contrasts her on-field persona with a gentle yet driven demeanor off it, channeling her ferocity into fundraising efforts (the last two NSWT calendars), coaching and promoting the game.

Mervin started a company, Aptoella, designing and selling rugby apparel for women, with shoulder pads as her flagship product.

Congratulations – and thanks – again to Howie, Maria and Barbara for their various contributions and presence in the rugby community.

**As a personal note, I’d like to mention how proud I am of both the men and women’s Rugby Canada programs. Living in New Zealand, I have been able to watch the progress from afar but also listen to the chatterings of other nations about rugby in Canada and I am impressed on both fronts. The men won over a lot of Kiwis during the World Cup and I’ve been asked about the women’s program on air while SKY TV showed clips from Dubai.

In regards to the CMA, thank you so much to the women who are keeping it alive both from an organizational standpoint (the committee and the provincial unions for putting forth names) and to the amazing women who continue to be worthy of the nominations.

An extra special thank you to Kristy Martin Hale who was really the driving organizational force this year. Much obliged.

Still yours,
Meghan Mutrie (Mooch)

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