The GUINNESS PRO14 Awards for the 2017/18 season were handed out at the Season Launch Party at the Argyle Street Arches in Glasgow tonight where 10 winners were recognised along with the line-up for the PRO14 Dream Team.
With the Awards moving into the build-up of the new season, this allowed voting processes that included over 75 media and the teams more time to choose their nominations across a number of award categories.
Two new awards were also introduced – the GUINNESS PRO14 Ironman award and the GUINNESS PRO14 Tackle Machine award which are aimed at recognising the Championship’s key contributors.
After Leinster became the first team from the Championship to complete a PRO14 and Champions Cup double, the province captured three of the awards on the night. Their head coach Leo Cullen took home the GUINNESS PRO14 Coach of the Season award, rising star Jordan Larmour won the Honda Young Player of the Season while his back-three colleague Barry Daly was recognised as the Championship’s top try scorer for last season.
Leinster also saw five players voted onto the PRO14 Dream Team – Andrew Porter, Scott Fardy, Jack Conan, James Lowe and Larmour.
The GUINNESS Players’ Player of the Season was won by Tadhg Beirne for his performances in the Scarlets jersey. The Ireland international has since joined Munster but was overwhelmingly recognised by his fellow players for his displays in Llanelli red throughout the Scarlets’ campaign that saw them reach the PRO14 final for the second successive year.
Former Dragons back rower Ed Jackson received the GUINNESS PRO14 Chairman’s award in recognition of his recovery from a serious spinal injury and subsequent charity work. Jackson, 29, was forced to retire from the game last year and has since recovered to the point where he has climbed Snowdon mountain in Wales for charity. Jackson was presented his award by Gerald Davies CBE, Chairman of the GUINNESS PRO14, who commended him for his terrific spirit in the face of adversity.
Former Toyota Cheetahs out-half Fred Zeilinga won the Gilbert Golden Boot with his accuracy of 85.37% outshining all of the other place-kickers (who had a minimum of 30 attempts at goal) in the PRO14 in 2017/18.
Olly Robinson of Cardiff Blues was the first winner of the GUINNESS PRO14 Tackle Machine award. Players who made 200 successful tackles or more were eligible and the award was given to the player with the highest completion percentage. Robinson made a total of 243 tackles with a tackle completion rate of 94.6% (Opta).
The first-ever GUINNESS PRO14 Ironman award went to Zebre’s Giulio Bisegni. The award recognises the player who accumulated the most minutes on the pitch across the 21 regular season rounds. The Italian international’s total of 1504 minutes earned him the award.
The Specsavers FairPlay award was won by the Scarlets who picked up just two yellow cards across the
entire PRO14 campaign in 2017/18.
2017/18 GUINNESS PRO14 AWARDS – LIST OF WINNERS:
GUINNESS Players’ Player of the Season: Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets)
GUINNESS PRO14 Coach of the Season: Leo Cullen (Leinster)
Honda Young Player of the Season: Jordan Larmour (Leinster)
GUINNESS PRO14 Chairman’s Award: Ed Jackson (Dragons)
Gilbert Golden Boot Award: Fred Zeilinga (Toyota Cheetahs)
GUINNESS PRO14 Dream Team Captain: Callum Gibbins (Glasgow Warriors)
GUINNESS PRO14 Top Try Scorer: Barry Daly (Leinster)
GUINNESS PRO14 Tackle Machine: Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues)
GUINNESS PRO14 Ironman: Giulio Bisegni (Zebre)
Specsavers FairPlay Award: Scarlets
Meanwhile, the GUINNESS PRO14 Dream Team was also announced tonight after over 75 media (including former players and coaches) were involved in the voting. To be eligible players had to have made at least nine appearances during the 2017/18 season.
Last season’s finalists, Leinster and the Scarlets, dominated the voting with five players each selected. Glasgow Warriors earned two representatives with back rower Callum Gibbins nominated as the Dream Team captain and Nick Grigg winning a place in the midfield. Torsten van Jaarsveld (Toyota Cheetahs), John Cooney (Ulster) and Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) made up the final places.
2017/18 GUINNESS PRO14 DREAM TEAM:
15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh)
14. Jordan Larmour (Leinster)
13. Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets)
11. James Lowe (Leinster)
10. Rhys Patchell (Scarlets)
9. John Cooney (Ulster)
1. Rob Evans (Scarlets)
2. Torsten van Jaarsveld (Toyota Cheetahs)
3. Andrew Porter (Leinster)
4. Scott Fardy (Leinster)
5. Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets)
6. Aaron Shingler (Scarlets)
7. Callum Gibbins (Glasgow Warriors) (capt)
8. Jack Conan (Leinster)