Rugby League

Women's Challenge Cup

8 May 2022

Zoe Hornby surprised and delighted by individual honour

Zoe Hornby surprised and delighted by individual honour

Leeds Rhinos may have lost the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup Final, but their outstanding contribution to a compelling match found tangible reward in the Player of the Match award for Zoe Hornby – who also emerged as a great ambassador for Rugby League in the North East.

Hornby started playing Rugby League with Whitley Bay Barbarians and remains based in Newcastle, where she is a student at Northumbria University and works for Newcastle United’s Foundation as a football coach.

She set the tone for Leeds’s performance with one blockbusting drive through the middle, and then scored the opening try by surging on to an inside pass from Georgia Roche.

“It’s a great honour, and very unexpected,” she said after hearing of her nomination as Player of the Match, which was determined by a poll of media covering the match at Elland Road – in the same way as the Lance Todd Trophy has traditionally been decided for the outstanding performer in the men’s Challenge Cup Final.

“I’m just really appreciative of being a part of this team, and of a great occasion. We want to inspire more young girls to get involved in the game.”

Zoe follows in the footsteps of the England captain Emily Rudge, who was Player of the Match in St Helens’ win against York City Knights in last year’s Final at Leigh Sports Village, and her Leeds captain Courtney Winfield-Hill, who was the star performer in the Rhinos’ triumph over Castleford in Bolton in 2019.

Georgia Roche was the other Leeds player to receive a vote with seven other votes spread across five St Helens players – two each for scrum half Beth Stott and full-back Rebecca Rotheram, who pulled off an astonishing try-saving tackle at a crucial stage of the match, and one each for Rudge, Chantelle Crowl and teenage wing Eboni Partington, who scored two tries.