Tom Stewart has been announced as the first winner of the 2022/23 United Rugby Championship Awards.
The young Ulster hooker crossed the whitewash a record-breaking 16 times over the course of the BKT URC regular season, picking up the OFX Top Try Scorer award.
This kicks off three weeks of announcements in the build-up to the BKT URC final on Saturday, May 27.
Wednesday will see the winners of the Tackle Machine and Turnover King awards crowned with the Elite XV, Try of the Season, Next-Gen Player of the Season and Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season winners being disclosed next week.
The Gilbert Golden Boot and Ironman winners will be confirmed after the semi-final stage, while the BKT Coach of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season will be divulged during the week of the final.
Stewart ended the season in stunning form for Ulster to soar to the top of the BKT URC try-scoring charts in record-breaking fashion.
The Emerging Ireland front rower (22) went over eight times in his final four matches – including back-to-back hat-tricks – to move on to 16 tries.
It surpassed the feat achieved by Tim Visser (Edinburgh, 2010/11) and Rabz Maxwane (Cheetahs, 2018/19) by two tries.
He finished the regular season four clear, with Edinburgh’s Darcy Graham his nearest challenger with 12, while Connacht scrum half Caolin Blade had 11.
Simone Gesi (Zebre Parma), Rob Russell (Leinster) and Gavin Coombes (Munster) registered 10 tries each, and Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) and Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) both had nine.