Aberavon, Ospreys and Wales Under 20 centre Ashley Beck was yesterday named Principality Premiership Player of the Year at the fourth Principality Premiership Annual Awards dinner held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
|ABERAVON'S ASHLEY BECK NAMED PRINCIPALITY PREMIERSHIP PLAYER OF THE YEAR |
He was presented the award by Wales and Cardiff Blues star Tom Shanklin who praised the young player as a certain star of the future.
Beck beat off competition from the Newport centre Tom Riley and the Cardiff flanker Rhys Shellard who were also shortlisted.
Ashley Beck now has plenty to celebrate as he only turned 19 last month and on Thursday will travel to Japan as vice-captain of the Wales U20 squad heading for the IRB Junior World Championship.
Previous winners of the Player of the Year award include Lee Beach of Neath who captained Wales to the Rugby World Cup Sevens title in March and Scarlets full back Morgan Stoddart who has already been capped by Wales at senior level.
Tom Shanklin said: "This award represents significant recognition, especially for someone as young as Ashley.
"Ashley clearly has the talent, the physique and leadership qualities to help him succeed at the highest level, and he has already made a great impression in the Principality Premiership, in international age grade rugby and within the professional Ospreys set-up.
"Tom James, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny have proved how it is possible to achieve great things in a short space of time and I look forward to watching Ashley's progress here in Wales and beyond our borders."
The Best Newcomer Award went to the Llanelli lock forward Aaron Shingler who recently made a big impact when he ran in a try from half way in the SWALEC Cup final against Neath.
He joined Llanelli from Hendy and has made such rapid progress that he has already featured in four games for the Scarlets.
He beat off competition from David Evans, a Dunvant product who scored eight tries for Neath in his first season, graduated into the Wales Sevens side and made his debut for the Ospreys. Also shortlisted was the utility back Geraint O'Driscoll of Pontypool who scored 187 points in 15 appearances despite being sidelined for part of the season with a back injury.
The Principality Premiership Best Coach was Sven Cronk of Newport who guided the Black and Ambers from seventh in the Premiership table last season to second this season, the club's best finish since the 2004/05 season. The former Newport and Pontypridd front row stalwart has switched effectively and rapidly from playing into success as a coach.
Also on the shortlist for the Best Coach award were Simon King of Aberavon and Wales U18s and Phil Davies, the former Leeds Tykes and Scarlets Head Coach who joined Cardiff during the season and who this week heads for Japan as Wales Under 20 head coach.
The Principality Building Society Services to Rugby Award went to Blair Evans of Glamorgan Wanderers who is standing down this year after 18 years as club Chairman.
He is an ex Glamorgan Wanderers player who went on to coach their youth teams and also held various committee posts before taking over the chair in 1991.
He has been massively influential in returning the club to the position it now enjoys in the upper echelons of the Premiership and has also been heavily involved in Cardiff and District Rugby and the East District Rugby organisation.
On the shortlist were Ron Taylor of Ebbw Vale who has given countless hours of his time to the club as a volunteer for the past 15 years and John Herrera of Cross Keys who has worked tirelessly for the club since retiring as a player just after World War II. Both shortlisted nominees were also recognised for their contribution to this level of the game by the Principality Building Society.
The Principality Building Society Fair Play Award went to Pontypool RFC for the warmth of the welcome the club provided to match officials throughout the season.