Ulster lock Alan O’Connor and Ospreys back rower Jac Morgan have scooped the Tackle Machine and Turnover King awards respectively, kicking off three weeks of announcements in the build-up to the United Rugby Championship final.
Wednesday will see the winner of the Gilbert Golden Boot crowned before the Top Try Scorer and Ironman to follow next week, along with the Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season, Next-Gen Star of the Season and the Dream Team.
Loch Lomond Coach of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season will be announced in the week of the final.
Here, we take a closer look at the first two award winners and the performances that led to their prizes, which were awarded using URC StatMaster data provided by Oval Insights.
Tackle Machine: Alan O’Connor (Ulster) – 195 tackles, 97.5% success rate
This award is given to the player who boasts the best tackle success rate among those who have attempted 150 or more over the course of the campaign.
Ulster’s Alan O’Connor takes home the prize having made 195 tackles at a success rate of 97.5%.
The second row’s figure saw him finish ahead of the Ospreys’ Will Griffiths (96.17%), Connacht’s Jarrad Butler (95.29%) and the Dragons’ Ollie Griffiths (94.92%), while his Ulster team-mate Nick Timoney – the man who has made the most tackles in the URC this season (247) – rounded off the top five with a success rate of 94.64%.
O’Connor commented: “I am proud to have won the 2021/22 URC Tackle Machine award. It’s been a great season, and the team and I are really looking forward to this weekend’s quarter-final against Munster.
“It’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere on Friday night at Kingspan Stadium.”
Turnover King: Jac Morgan (Ospreys) – 24 turnovers won
Awarded to the player who has won the most turnovers during the regular season, Jac Morgan edged his rivals to scoop the prize for the 2021/22 campaign.
The Ospreys flanker racked up 24 for the campaign as the Swansea-based region won the inaugural Welsh Shield.
He was pushed all the way by Deon Fourie of the DHL Stormers, who finished on 23, while Ulster’s Marcus Rea (19), the Ospreys’ Morgan Morris (17) and the Dragons’ Ollie Griffiths (16) completed the top five.
“Delighted to win this award this season after just missing out last year,” admitted Morgan. “It’s been a great first season at the Ospreys and hopefully we can all push on next year as a team and put our best foot forward.”