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8 Stand outs from the Women's Championship

Las Leonas remain at the top after convincingly defeating Portugal, Netherlands, and Sweden, in a year that the Women’s Rugby Europe Championship expanded to four teams.

With the curtain closing, it is time to pick some of the stars who shone brightly throughout the tournament, in another testament to the growth of the women’s game.

Claudia Peña Hidalgo (Spain)

The top point scorer of the tournament and one of the very best at lighting the fuse, Claudia Peña Hidalgo is the real deal and deserves to be recognized as so.

The Spanish fullback dotted down a couple of tries and converted five kicks, but her impact for Spain went beyond that, as her leadership drove Spain to take down a resilient Portuguese and Dutch side, pulling from her magician hat more than a couple of astonishing runs and breaks. Her attacking proficiency has pushed Spain closer to victory and she deserves every bit of applause.

Nicky Dix (Netherlands)

Power carrier, talented scrummager, and resilient breakdown worker, that’s the best way to describe one of the most powerful forces in the Women’s Rugby Europe Championship, Nicky Dix. The loosehead prop was vital to squeeze the Portuguese front-row, earning some precious penalties that drove the Dutch side closer to the try-line, even scoring one try in the CAR Jamor. Dix is an inspirational unit that can power the Netherlands pack for the next ten years, and we hope to see even more of her in 2025.

Mariana Santos (Portugal)

Mariana Santos was brilliant for Portugal from the first kick-off, as the voracious speedster didn’t stop until she found ideas and ways to crack open a line break in the opposition's defense. After scoring a couple of brilliant tries against Sweden, Santos was moved to the centre pairing and impressed with a series of good tackles, stopping Spain from reaching the try-line. Her wits and pace were decisive for the Lobas positive run in the Women’s Rugby Europe Championship.

Cristina Blanco Herrera (Spain)

Another front-rower makes the list, and it had to be Cristiana Blanco Herrera, Spain’s main hooker. Yes, she scored two tries and was rock solid in her duties at the lineout and scrum, but her skills as a breakdown pilfer combined with her backline units deserve the same amount of praise, branding her as a special kind of player.

Inger Jongerius (Netherlands)

Inger Jongerius's tackling prowess was one of the very best in the Women’s REC, capturing and taking down incoming carriers like a honeypot catches flies. Her defensive talents were instrumental for her team, raising the bar against Portugal and Spain, as her sacrifice and work rate inspired her teammates to do the same.

Sara Moreira (Portugal)

Missed the first game against the Netherlands, and her absence was noted as Sara Moreira's physical impact energizes any team that she is part of. The sheer aggression injected by the blindside flanker gave Portugal a fighting chance against Spain, hunting and closing down any threat that came next to the ruck or from a scrum move.

Lucia Diaz (Spain)

A one Player of the Match winner, Lucia Diaz was an unstoppable energy source for Spain, weaving a smart passing game that started most of the best attacking opportunities. The scrumhalf’s eccentricity, pace, and wits emboldened the Leonas to dominate in each of their three games, ending as the team with more points and tries scored throughout the tournament.

Elin Sterner (Sweden)

We all like a well-rounded forward unit capable of delivering tackles that can be heard from the stands, or driving forward even if hindered down by a couple of tacklers, and Sweden’s Elin Sterner ticked all those boxes. Her motivation to keep going even when the game wasn’t going well for her side was something to behold and will play a major role in Sweden’s future in the Women’s game.

By Francisco Isaac 

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