Justin Tipuric, Sam Lewis and Dan Biggar were among the winners on a special night for the Ospreys, as the region hosted its annual end of season dinner at the National Waterfront Museum on Friday
The two opensides took the Players’ Player of the Year and Coaches’ Player of the Year awards respectively, while Biggar picked up the Fans’s award. Other winners included youngsters Josh Cole and Luke Price, while there were presentations to recognise individual landmarks achieved over the last 12 months.
Players, coaches, staff and commercial partners attended the dinner, which was hosted by the South Wales Evening Post.
The Players’ Player award, sponsored by Dry House, is based on votes cast throughout the season by the match day 23 immediately following each individual match, with the total number of votes throughout the course of the season totted up to recognise the winner. This year, the honour went to British & Irish Lion Tipuric, the second time the Trebanos man has won this award following his success in 2011.
Andy Lloyd, Rugby Operations Manager, paid tribute to Tipuric, saying:
"Justin is a quiet leader, someone who's actions speak louder than words. He seems a permanent fixture in our end of season awards, having previously picked up this honour as well as receiving the fans award last year and the Elite Development award as a teenager. He is Mr Reliable, someone who gives everything for the cause, and his consistency is an example to anyone who wants to be an Osprey. To be honoured by his colleagues twice in this way shows how highly he is respected by his peers."
The Coaches’ Player award, sponsored by Cuddy Group, also went to an openside in Sam Lewis, making it two awards in as many years after he picked up the Players’ version last year. Versatile, with a workaholic attitude to the game, the 23-year old has really established himself as a core member of the squad over the last 12 months. Andy Lloyd commented:
"Sam is entirely selfless, someone who always puts the team first and does his talking on the pitch. Possibly something of an unsung hero outside of the region, within our environment we truly appreciate and value his efforts on and off the field. This is a well deserved honour for a player who has worked tirelessly to achieve what he has to date, and who is always striving to improve, to be the best he can.”
The third senior player award, the Worthington’s Fans’ Player, went to Dan Biggar. Voted by readers of the South Wales Evening Post, official media partner of the Ospreys, it was the first time Dan has been fortunate enough to pick up one of the key awards.
"Dan's record as an Osprey speaks for itself” said Andy Lloyd.
“Record points scorer and youngest ever centurion, he is passionate about representing his region and takes great pride in being an Osprey. He has also begun to establish himself within the national squad as well over the last year or so, and is now getting the wider credit that he deserves. His relentless desire to drive himself and the Ospreys onto to better things is incredible and something that supporters can identify with, hence this well deserved award.”
Seven players received their Ospreys cap after completing 50 regional appearances - Matthew Morgan, Joe Bearman, Scott Baldwin, Jonathan Spratt, Hanno Dirksen, Sam Lewis and Aaron Jarvis - while Rhys Webb and Richard Fussell both received recognition for completing their Ospreys century in recent weeks. There was a special presentation to Duncan Jones to commemorate the historic landmark he reached against the Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium in January, when he became the first - and only to date - player to reach 200 appearances for the Ospreys. To mark the achievement, Duncan received a specially commissioned ring from Stephen Hughes Jewellers.
The evening wasn’t just about the senior team though, with two young Ospreys also receiving recognition. 16-year old back-rower, Josh Cole, crowned an impressive season of regional age-grade rugby by receiving the Most Improved Elite Youth Player, sponsored by Trinity St David University, in recognition of his outstanding form that saw him featuring high in any statistical analysis of the campaign and gaining international honours at U18 level.
Last year’s Most Improved winner, Luke Price, went one better this time around, picking up the Elite Youth Development Player of the Year award, sponsored by Sony UK Technology Centre. It completes a remarkable year for the 18-year old from Abercrave, that has seen him impress at regional age-grade, Premiership and international level, as well as making his senior Ospreys debut. After scoring over half of the Ospreys U18’s points in their regional age-grade Championship, he has played regularly for Swansea in the Premiership during the second half of the campaign, providing a steadying influence in the All-Whites’ late rally for survival scoring 50 points. He also featured for Aberavon in the British & Irish Cup.
The final award of the night was the Osprey of the Year, sponsored by BT Sport. Judged by members of the senior management team from all departments within the organisation, this award recognises the person deemed to have given the most to the Ospreys on or off the field over the course of the season, contributing positively to the Ospreys culture, offering support and/or assistance to players, management and staff while maintaining the highest professional standards at all times.
All players, management and staff members are eligible for the award.
Ospreys Chief Executive, Andrew Hore, said:
“The panel spoke at length about an extensive list of candidates, who it was felt have met the criteria for this award. It has been a very tough year for the organisation, and our employees, in many ways. With so much uncertainty surrounding so many areas it has been undoubtedly the toughest year for regional rugby since its inception in 2003.
“It is alway the case that the unseen hard work being done day in, day out, within our environment, by so many people, is maybe never fully appreciated by those outside of our organisation. However, this year, that is the case more so than ever. In the context of the current climate, the work carried out by so many people simply to allow the business to keep its doors open, and to keep the Ospreys’ position as Wales’ leading region, means to single out one person would be inappropriate on this occasion.
“It has been a massive team effort this year, and so it is absolutely right that this award is shared by the whole organisation.”
To see our gallery of winners, please visit our Facebook page here..