Last nights Premiership Rugby awards dinner saw the crowning of a number of the seasons star performers both on and off of the field.
The top award of Player of the Season went to Leicester Tigers hooked Tom Youngs who was crowned after an enormous season for both club and country which earned him a place on this summers Lions tour to Australia.
He said of the award “I’m over the moon. It’s been an unbelievable season for me and I’d like to thank all my teammates at Leicester and the coaching staff who have helped me so much. Simon Hardy, my throwing coach, has been outstanding for me for the last three years. I knew I was up for the award, but to win it is fantastic. There are some great players and to win against them. I can’t really put into words. Chris [Robshaw] won it last year and is a great bloke and a great mentor to learn from so it’s great to follow in his footsteps.”
The Director of Rugby of the year award went to Saracens Mark McCall after he led his team to the summit of the Premiership table after the departure of Andy Farrell. Under his impressive guidance Saracens have recorded an impressive 75% win rate in the Aviva Premiership whilst they have also discovered a rich vein of try scoring form in recent months.
Of the award he said “Everyone knows this is the one award that isn’t an individual award it is one that shows your club is in pretty good condition and we believe that is the case. The players were pretty proud of that – you don’t get anything for finishing top – but it gave us a quiet satisfaction going into the last few games. It’s massive. All four teams want to be there on the 25th May, Northamtpon Saints are a great team with a lot of good players who are really well coached and we have had lots of close games against them over the last couple of seasons and I am sure this will be no different.”
Meanwhile Joe Launchbury capped a break-through season by capturing the Discovery of the Season award thanks to a year in which he nailed on a starting spot for both club and country. Launchbury has been nothing short of immense this season putting his body on the line and making an impact whenever he has played. His absence for Wasps during the international breaks has been obvious and he seems desperately unlucky not to have made the plane to Australia this summer.
He said: “I am delighted, it is a good reflection on me and how Wasps have done this year as a team so it is good to get a bit of recognition like this. The Aviva Premiership seems to be getting a lot younger, and there is a lot of good talent around so to come out on the top of that pile is a massive honour for me and I am delighted. I’ve really enjoyed my rugby this year, I have had an injury-free year and loved every minute of it. I have hopefully kept my form going throughout the year and playing for England and getting that first cap was a massive thing for me then coming back to Wasps – results haven’t gone our way of late – but we have still been playing well and it is a season to be proud of.”
Shaun Perry capped off his professional rugby career by collecting the Community player of the season for his work with the Acorns Children’s Hospice. He said “It’s nice to get an award, the only one I’ve won in my career so it will go down well. For every fat kid out there, there is a chance so stick with it.” Harlequins flyer Ollie Lindsay-Hague picked up the Game Changer of the Year award after seizing his chance with an electric performance against London Welsh. Young Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns narrowly pipped Exeter’s Gareth Steenson to the Golden Boot award after an epic 40 – 39 victory over the Chiefs on the final day of the season proper whilst Wasps flyers Christian Wade and Tom Varndell picked up the top try scorer aware. In addition Dan Bowden was awarded the Try of the Season.
The Aviva Premiership Rugby team of the season was also announced as; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Geoff Parling, Tom Wood, Julian Salvi, Richard Baxter, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Christian Wade, Billy Twelvetrees, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Varndell, Luke Arscott
What do you think of the awards? Has anyone been unlucky to miss out?
*Images via Premiership Rugby