Ospreys out-half Dan Biggar and Glasgow Warriors' Jonny Gray were crowned the Players' Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year respectively at tonight's RaboDirect PRO12 Awards in the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.
Dan Biggar had already been named in the RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team for the season last week and scooped the Players' Player of the Year award for his outstanding contribution to the Ospreys' season.
Voted for by the 12 RaboDirect PRO12 captains and ambassadors, the Ospreys out-half beat Glasgow Warriors' Niko Matawalu and Ulster's Ruan Pienaar to the title in an incredibly tight vote.
He follows in the footsteps of Tommy Bowe, Piennar, Tim Visser and last year's winner Nick Williams in picking up the prestigious gong.
Jonny Gray picked up the Young Player of the Year title after not only breaking into and starting in the Glasgow side, but also into the Scottish national team.
He beat Leinster centre Noel Reid to the Young Player honour and follows in the footsteps of previous winners Tim Visser, Toby Faletau, Stuart Hogg and Luke Marshall.
It was a good night for Connacht and Ulster, as they share a £10,000 cheque to put towards youth development after jointly claiming the SpecSavers Fair Play award for having the fewest yellow and red cards and citings over the 22 games.
Rob Penney won the Coach of the Year award after steering Munster into the play-offs again. His side put together a record number of wins during the campaign and finished in third place overall to set up a semi-final clash with Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium next Friday.
Leinster legends Leo Cullen and Brian O'Driscoll both received (in absentia) the Chairman's award in recognition of their outstanding service to their province, their country, the tournament as a whole and the game of rugby union.
Connacht took over from Scarlets as winners of the Rhino Collision Kings award after a panel of experts assessed their efficiency at the breakdown and tackling,
Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan scooped the Rhino Golden Boot award with a goal-kicking success rate of 87.30% (55 kicks out of 63). Cardiff Blues' Gareth Davies came a close second with 86.96%.
2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team: Liam Williams (Scarlets); Jeff Hassler (Ospreys), Casey Laulala (Munster), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Andrew Trimble (Ulster); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); David Kilcoyne (Munster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Johann Muller (Ulster) (capt), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster),Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues).
2013/14 RABODIRECT PRO12 AWARD WINNERS:
PLAYERS' PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Dan Biggar (Ospreys)
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
COACH OF THE YEAR - Rob Penney (Munster)
CHAIRMAN'S AWARD - Leo Cullen and Brian O'Driscoll (both Leinster)
RHINO GOLDEN BOOT - JJ Hanrahan (Munster)
RHINO COLLISION KINGS - Connacht
SPECSAVERS FAIRPLAY AWARD - Ulster and Connacht (shared)
TRY OF THE YEAR - Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors)
The provinces claimed 19 out of a possible 20 points over the weekend, as Munster and Leinster kept up the Irish 1-2 at the top of the GUINNESS PRO12, Ulster moved up to fifth place and Connacht's second successive home win also saw them gain ground.
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Speaking to Rob Murphy after Connacht's PRO12 victory over the Dragons, head coach Pat Lam said: "There are some things to learn from, but we're pleased to start with a win. When you consider nine in that starting group are under 23, it's good to see some of those talented guys get a chance - particularly the new ones."
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Looking forward to the new GUINNESS PRO12 season, Connacht captain John Muldoon said: "We've a lot of younger guys who have big years ahead of them and a few big name signings who will hopefully be able to fit into the system and work hard among the ethos of Connacht Rugby."
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Speaking during Connacht's training trip to Ballinrobe RFC, captain John Muldoon said: "It's great to see the jerseys and the people coming out to support us today. Long may it continue because we're not a Galway team, we're a Connacht team and that's what we want to push and that's why we come out on these days out."
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