Who won what at this year's awards?James King, Justin Tipuric and Sam Lewis were among those honoured at the Ospreys end of season awards hosted by the South Wales Evening Post at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea on Thursday night.
Players, staff, directors and commercial partners came together for the traditional prize giving ceremony that recognises the contribution of individuals to the Ospreys cause throughout the season.
As always, there were three Player of the Year awards, the Coaches’ Player, the Players’ Player and the Worthington’s Fans Award.
The Coaches’ award, sponsored by The Business Network, went to James King, a player who has this season established himself as a crucial hub in the team with 23 appearances under his belt during 2012/13. King won his award just ahead of Kahn Fotuali’i, Richard Fussell and Richard Hibbard. The Ospreys coaching team of Steve Tandy, Jonathan Humphreys and Gruff Rees selected the winner, with Head Coach Tandy explaining:
“James is a real asset to the Ospreys both on and off the field, he is an outstanding athlete who has come through the Ospreys Development Pathway and has worked really hard to cement his place in the senior squad. James is a true professional of the game and has a very long future to look forward to. We are proud to call him an Osprey.”
Meanwhile, the Harris Brothers Tyres Players’ Player of the Year award isbased on votes cast throughout the season by the match day 23 following each individual match, with the total votes totted up at the end of the season. The award went to young flanker Sam Lewis just ahead of King, Fotuali’i, Andrew Bishop and Justin Tipuric.
Andy Lloyd, Rugby Operations Manager, said:
“Sam is a true team man, he is tough on the pitch and gives everything for the team. He leads from the front and was rewarded this season by captaining the Ospreys against Gloucester. Sam epitomises everything we want from an Osprey, on and off the field, and is pleasure to have in the squad.”
The final senior players award, the Worthington’s Fans Player was decided by a public vote in conjunction with the South Wales Evening Post, official media partner of the Ospreys.
Justin Tipuric was the runaway winner of this one, with Fotuali’i and Hibbard in second and third place. It is the third award for Tipuric in his short career as an Osprey having received the Elite Youth Player of the Year accolade in 2010 and the Players’ Player award a year later. He was, in traditional awards ceremony fashion, unfortunately unable to attend, so his award was collected on his behalf by skipper Alun Wyn Jones.
Molson Coors Regional Sales Director Diane Rees said:
“We were delighted that almost a thousand votes were cast by readers of the South Wales Evening Post, which shows how much supporters of the Ospreys actually care about their team. Our “Player of the Year” Justin Tipuric was a clear winner with over 35% of all votes casts. It’s a reflection on just how good a season Justin has had and what a really “Worthy Winner” he is”
Two future Ospreys were also recognised, with Abercrave RFC, Ysgol Maes y Dderwen and Neath Port Talbot College product Luke Price picking up the Neath Port Talbot College Most Improved Elite Youth Player award while Rory Thornton, of Bonymaen RFC, Cefn Hengoed and Gower College Swansea, took the esteemed Candyfloss Cakes Elite Youth Player of the Year award. Outside half Price and second row Thornton both received international recognition with Wales U18 this season.
King, Tipuric and Tom Isaacs received their Ospreys caps to commemorate 50 appearances for the region.
The final award of the night was the RWE npower renewables Osprey of the Year. Judged by members of the senior management team from various departments of the organisation, the award recognises the person who has given the most to the Ospreys on or off the field over the course of the season, contributing 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, with honourable mentions going to Richard Fussell, Andrew Hore, Duncan Jones, Andrew Millward and Peter Owen. However, the award went to Backs Coach Gruff Rees, who received a specially commissioned trophy produced by Begelly House.
Andrew Hore, Chief Operations Officer, said:
“Gruff is a huge asset to Ospreys Rugby exhibiting all the characteristics and values we want within our organisation. He is hard working, very experienced and meticulous in all facets of his role and is a great role model for our current senior Ospreys as well as continuing to nurture the players coming through our Development Pathway.
“Gruff is also a humble and dedicated family man. This year has not been an easy one for Gruff and his family but throughout he has continued to be professional and carry out his role. We are extremely proud to call Gruff our Osprey of the Year.”
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