Leicester Tigers did the double at the 13th annual RPA Computacenter Rugby Players’ Awards, scooping both the Computacenter Players’ Player of the Year Award and the Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year.
In the week of their Aviva Premiership Final against Saracens, the Tigers’ preparations received a boost after the RPA members voted Thomas Waldrom theComputacenter Players’ Player of the Year and his team-mate Manu Tuilagi theNorman Broadbent Young Player of the Year.
It is the second time that Leicester have taken both awards, following in the footsteps of Martin Corry and Harry Ellis who completed the prestigious double in 2005.
Runner up in the Players’ Player Award was Northampton Saints’ and England flyer Chris Ashton and in third place was Harlequins mercurial fly-half Nick Evans.
Waldrom, who joined Leicester Tigers from the Canterbury Crusaders last summer, has been a sensation in his debut season in Northern Hemisphere rugby.
Waldrom said: “It’s a huge honour to have won the Computacenter Players’ Player of the Year and it has capped a great first season for me in the Premiership. I know it’s always said, but being voted for by your fellow players really is a big deal. There’s no greater compliment and I’d like to thank the players who voted for me. It was a total shock when I found out because there are so many fantastic players in the Premiership who could’ve won it. I was happy just to make the nominees list.
“I’d like to thank the whole team at the Tigers who’ve been tremendous since I’ve arrived. I’d particularly like to thank Craig Newby and Scott Hamilton who have shown me the ropes and helped me to settle in quickly. It’s amazing to be seen in the same league as a player like Nick Evans who was also on the shortlist. I personally voted for Tom Wood. He puts in a tremendous amount of work and I think he’s had a wonderful season.
“When I first arrived here my expectations were to play a few games here and there, but due to a few injuries I got to play a few games and was able to build on that. I’m really disappointed not to be able to be at the dinner. I know it’s a big night and you always want to be part of those big occasions, but we’ve got a huge game in the Aviva Premiership Final this weekend so we’ve all got to be tucked up in bed by 10pm and Cockers will be putting us through our paces this week!
The Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year Award was awarded to Manu Tuilagi. The Leicester Tigers’ centre has had a memorable debut year in the Premiership, also picking up the Young player of the season trophy at the Aviva Premiership Awards this month.
Tuilagi pooled over 60% of the player votes finishing ahead of Northampton Saints’ Tom Wood and Saracens’ Owen Farrell, who his side will face on Saturday in the Aviva Premiership Final.
Tuilagi said: “I’d like to thank all the players who have voted for me. It is a big honour and I am humbled to win this award. It is a big disappointment that the season won’t finish in the way it started for me and that I won’t be playing in the Premiership Final this weekend. I’m sorry about what happened in the Semi Final and I will do my best to learn from my mistake and come back a better player. I just want to say good luck to my teammates in the Final this weekend, thanks to the coaches for giving me the opportunity this season and thanks again to all the players who voted for me.”
Damian Hopley, CEO of the RPA, said:
“Our congratulations go to Thomas and Manu for delivering a Leicester Tigers’ clean sweep on the Awards voted for by the Players themselves. Tigers are now the only club to have taken both Players’ Player and Young Player Awards in two separate years. The 2011 RPA Computacenter Awards has been another tremendous success, with over 1, 000 people joining some of the greats of the game, to support the RPA and raise essential funds for the RPA Benevolent Fund – The professional players charity.”
Other players recognised on the night were Danny Grewcock MBE, who won the HSBC Special Merit Award and Lawrence Dallaglio OBE who was inducted into the LV Hall of Fame.
Michael Claassens was awarded The Sunday Times Try of the Year for his try against Exeter Chiefs at the Rec on 9th April 2011, which was voted for by fans on www.therpa.co.uk.
James Tincknell received The Blyth Spirit Award, sponsored by Towergate tlc following his inspiring progress after a life-threatening car crash. The award is a special presentation from the RPA members for outstanding courage in the face of adversity.
RPA Computacenter Rugby Players’ Awards 2011
Computacenter Players’ Player of the Year
Thomas Waldrom, Leicester Tigers
Chris Ashton, Northampton Saints
Nick Evans, Harlequins
Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year – The Nick Duncombe Memorial Award
Manu Tuilagi, Leicester Tigers
Tom Wood, Northampton Saints
Owen Farrell, Saracens
Special Merit Award, sponsored by HSBC
Danny Grewcock MBE
LV Hall of Fame Induction
Lawrence Dallaglio OBE
The Blyth Spirit Award sponsored by Towergate tlc
James Tincknell, Leeds Carnegie
The Sunday Times Try of the Year
Michael Claassens: Bath Rugbyv Exeter Chiefs: 9 April 2011
Schalk Brits: Saracensv Gloucester: 24 April 2011
Sireli Naqelevuki: Exeter Chiefsv Northampton Saints: 6 March 2011