Danny Cipriani’s stellar debut campaign in Gloucester Rugby colours saw him named Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Season at this evening’s star-studded awards ceremony.
The 31-year-old has been a key component of the Cherry & Whites this season as they finished third in the table, reaching the semi-finals for the first time in eight years.
Making the move from Wasps in the summer, Cipriani hasn’t been far away from various highlights reels in what has been one of the most competitive and exciting Gallagher Premiership Rugby seasons to date.
His 13 try assists and metronomic boot have kept Gloucester Rugby ticking and his head coach Johan Ackermann believes Cipriani deserves his Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Season award, making him only the second person after Wasps’ Jimmy Gopperth to win this and the RPA Player of the Year in the same campaign.
“I’m very pleased and so happy for Danny,” said Ackermann. “I’m so proud of him – it’s always a big thing when a player joins a club and there’s a bit of pressure on you to perform.
“You have to adapt to the style of the team and the coaches involved, and I can only speak highly of Danny’s commitment to the team.
“He’s set-up into the culture, he’s open – we have a good relationship where we’re open with each other and of course he’s made a serious impact on the field.
“He’s probably got the best skill I’ve seen from a fly-half from an attacking point of view, he can kick well and he’s extremely fast. He knows what he wants in attack and his distribution is top class.
“He’s made an immediate impact and the players around him got the benefit, but also Danny is the one who will always acknowledge the pack in front of him and the players around him, and how they’ve helped him and provided opportunities.”
Ackermann himself was also in the running for a prize at Wednesday evening’s Premiership Rugby Awards, presented by Gallagher, as he found himself on the shortlist for the Ricoh Director of Rugby of the Season.
However the gong went to Saracens’ Mark McCall, his achievement of finishing second in the League, winning a third European title in three years and finishing as runners-up in the Premiership Rugby Cup seeing him pip Ackermann, Exeter Chiefs’ Rob Baxter, Chris Boyd of Northampton Saints and Bristol Bears’ Pat Lam to the prize.
And the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award was taken home by 20-year-old Tom Curry who has become a senior leader for Sale Sharks this campaign, his work rate in defence and at the breakdown earning him several plaudits.
Curry has also shone on the international stage of late, all of which made him a worthy recipient of the award in the eyes of Land Rover ambassador David Flatman.
“Tom Curry was picked as the winner as he has performed brilliantly for Sale Sharks repeatedly, he’s done it many times this season in a Sale team that wasn’t able to achieve dominance,” Flatman said.
“He’s played well with his team on the front foot and the back foot, plus he’s done it for England. People roll this comment out all the time, so it loses its impact, but he’s a world-class player.
“Tom Curry has done it on every level and he has done it on the back foot. When Sale played Bath and it was 6-3, the game wasn’t the best we’ve seen and we’ve all been in games like that but Tom Curry was absolutely exceptional in that match and it’s hard to work out how someone can star in that game.
“He was just fabulous and I got a text from my dad and he just said, ‘Been watching Curry, can’t get enough of him, this kid is epic’, and my dad nailed it. I can’t get enough of watching him.”
While Curry’s career is still in its infancy, there was a special reward on the night for Richard Wigglesworth who this season surpassed Steve Borthwick on the all-time appearance list. The veteran scrum-half has now made 274 top-flight appearances.
This season has also been one to remember for both Denny Solomona and Cobus Reinach, with the Sale Shark and Northampton Saint dotting down 12 times, meaning they shared the Follador Top Try Scorer award.
The duo went into the last day of the season in a three-way tie on 11 tries – along with Jonny May – but added to their tallies, while Joe Marchant also scored for Harlequins to finish one behind.
There was no doubting who the Gilbert Golden Boot with George Ford’s performances for Leicester Tigers bringing a smile to fans’ faces in an otherwise difficult campaign.
The England fly-half finished top of the pile when it comes to points scored with the boot, amassing 201 points courtesy of 30 conversions and 47 penalties – finishing 22 ahead of runner-up Duncan Weir of Worcester Warriors.
Meanwhile, Gloucester Rugby speedster Ollie Thorley took home the Citizen Try of the Season award for his score in Round 7 against Leicester Tigers. With two minutes to go Thorley finished off a fine flowing move that started from within five minutes of Gloucester’s own try line, and it was no surprise he topped the first-ever public vote for this award.
Rugby players give so much more than just their all on the pitch for 80-plus minutes, and no one demonstrated that more than Bristol Bears hooker Nick Fenton-Wells, with his commitment off the field earning him the plaudits at the ceremony as he was named Gallagher Community Player of the Season.
The season itself started way back in July with the Premiership Rugby 7s at Franklin’s Gardens, with Harlequins’ Calum Waters collecting the London Pride Premiership Rugby 7s Player of the Season gong.
As for the Gallagher Premiership Rugby campaign, BT Sport have been with us all the way this season and their talent selected the below as their BT Sport Dream Team:
15. Alex Goode – Saracens
14. Santiago Cordero – Exeter Chiefs
13. Henry Slade – Exeter Chiefs
12. Mark Atkinson – Gloucester Rugby
11. Ollie Thorley – Gloucester Rugby
10. Danny Cipriani – Gloucester Rugby
9. Cobus Reinach – Northampton Saints
1. Mako Vunipola – Saracens
2. Jamie George – Saracens
3. John Afoa – Bristol Bears
4. Franco Mostert – Gloucester Rugby
5. Will Skelton – Saracens
6. Alex Dombrandt – Harlequins
7. Tom Curry – Sale Sharks
8. Matt Kvesic – Exeter Chiefs