Bundee Aki was voted the Connacht Rugby Players’ Player of the Year by his fellow team-mates at the annual Connacht Rugby Awards Gala in Galway on Saturday night.
Bundee Aki has had a stand-out season, starting 26 of the 28 games played so far. His skill-set, physicality, and work-rate on and off the ball have seen him earn plenty of recognition from fans and peers.
Connacht supporters echoed the views of the players with Aki also taking home the Fans’ Player of the Year following a public vote conducted online. The 26-year-old centre, now in his second season at Connacht, was up to the stage for a third time to pick up the award for Back of the Year, while his Connacht captain John Muldoon was a deserved recipient of the Forward of the Year honour.
On receiving the accolades, Aki commented: “While it’s very humbling to receive these awards, I’m definitely collecting them on behalf of the whole team. It’s been a phenomenal season and it’s fantastic to see that all the hard work from absolutely everyone since day one of pre-season has paid off to get us to where we are now.
“To receive an award from the Connacht fans is awesome. Since I arrived here two years ago, they have been incredible and we really appreciate their support of the team, especially the way they create that special atmosphere at the Sportsground that we love.”
Westport RFC were announced as the Connacht Club of the Year following an outstanding season for the Mayo club. Their senior team found success in the J1A League and the Cawley Cup, while also reaching the Junior Cup final and representing Connacht in the Ulster Bank League Round Robin qualifiers.
The club’s youth girls section has also been a particular highlight, appearing in three finals, winning the Under-18 Cup and League.
Representatively, Westport had nine players in the Connacht Juniors’ matchday squad, five girls in the Connacht Under-18 squad and a player in the Connacht Under-19 squad.
2015/16 CONNACHT RUGBY AWARDS WINNERS:
CONNACHT UNDER-18 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Top Oil
CONNACHT UNDER-19 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Peter Gormley, ENT
CONNACHT UNDER-20 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Keller Travel
CONNACHT WOMEN’S CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Wayfair
Elizabeth McKeever, NUIG RFC
CONNACHT WOMEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by My Club Finances
CONNACHT COACH OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Deloitte
Steve Parkinson, Colaiste Iognaid (the Jes)
CONNACHT CLUB OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Ulster Bank
CONNACHT REFEREE OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Golden Eye Security
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO RUGBY, sponsored by AIB
John Davey, Sligo RFC and Cian de Buitlear, An Ghaeltacht RFC
CONNACHT JUNIOR CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Heineken
Kevin Corcoran, Westport RFC
CONNACHT SENIOR CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by HC Financial
Rory O’Connor, Buccaneers RFC
CONNACHT RUGBY ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR, Sponsored by RDJ
CONNACHT RUGBY FORWARD OF THE YEAR, sponsored by The Front Door
CONNACHT RUGBY BACK OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Deep RiverRock
CONNACHT RUGBY TRY OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Irish Independent
Caolin Blade, Connacht v Ulster (away)
CONNACHT RUGBY TEAM MAN OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Mazda
CONNACHT RUGBY FANS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Life Style Sports
CONNACHT RUGBY PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Bank of Ireland