Horstmann wins league top try award

Worcester’s Kai Horstmann claimed the MBNA Try of the Season in the Guinness Premiership at a star-studded awards ceremony last night at the Great Hall, Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC.

Warriors ace Horstmann won the top gong for what was a length of the pitch effort by Worcester at Edgeley Park on February 29.

Starting from under their own posts, Shane Drahm broke clear, before Worcester recycled the ball on the left and Thinus Delport sent over a long cross-field kick which Marcel Garvey tapped down for Horstmann to finish.

James Simpson-Daniel’s effort against Bath Rugby in round 22 came second, with Fraser Waters’ try against Leeds Carnegie on Sunday 30th September 2007 finishing third.

Gloucester’s flying wing Simpson-Daniel claimed the title of Guinness Premiership Player of the Season. Simpson-Daniel has been a key figure for Gloucester Rugby since making his debut in 2000. Since then he has played over 100 Premiership matches for the cherry and whites, scoring 41 tries.

This season he achieved his best league total ever, with ten tries in his 18 Guinness Premiership appearances, including a try of the season contender against Bath Rugby in round 22 and one in their semi-final defeat to Leicester Tigers.

That try confirmed Simpson-Daniel as Gloucester’s top scorer and the second highest scorer in the league.

Simpson-Daniel has been a constant threat this season for the league’s second highest try scorers, confirming his place as one of the most dangerous finishers in the northern hemisphere.

Surgery on a niggling shoulder injury will prevent Simpson-Daniel from adding to his tally of ten England caps in New Zealand, but will hope to continue his excellent form for Gloucester into next season.

In second place was Bath Rugby’s Olly Barkley, who played a massive part in the renaissance of the former English champions, helping them to third place in the league and victory in the European Challenge Cup. Barkley’s form has seen him force his way back into the England reckoning and he will tour New Zealand this summer.

In third was Gloucester flanker Akapusi Qera. In his first season of Guinness Premiership rugby, the Fijian has taken the league by storm, impressing all with his pace and physicality in both attack and defence.

Also honoured was Danny Cipriani who claimed the title of Land Rover Discovery of the Season.

Ciprinai’s season was cruelly cut short ten days ago when he suffered a fracture dislocation of his ankle in his side’s Guinness Premiership semi-final win against Bath Rugby at Adams Park.

Prior to that, Cipriani had lit up the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup with his intelligent play at fly-half, finishing the season with the most try assists of any player in the league and contributing six tries of his own.

Under Cipriani’s youthful stewardship at fly-half, London Wasps have steadily climbed the table, winning nine of their last ten matches to finish the league in second place, before beating Bath Rugby to claim their first Premiership Final place since 2005.

Injury prevented Cipriani from attending the awards in person, but was presented with a Land Rover Freelander to use for the next twelve months at his home in south-west London yesterday morning.

It was an award double for Cipriani as he also claimed the PRA Young Player award last week.

Danny Cipriani said, “I’m delighted to receive the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award. I would like to thank my team mates at Wasps – the forwards for providing me with a solid platform and the backs for their support outside me. It has been an incredible season so hopefully we can finish it off in style this weekend at Twickenham. I am looking forward to getting back on my feet and to driving my new Land Rover Freelander 2.”

Cipriani beat Sale Sharks’ Ben Foden into second and Harlequins’ Danny Care into third. Both will hope to emulate Cipriani by winning England caps in the near future and Care will have the opportunity to do so this summer when he tours New Zealand with the full England side.

Gloucester Director of Rugby Dean Ryan was honoured for his work with the league leaders this season by taking the title of O2 Director of Rugby of the Season.

Gloucester Rugby were top of the table for 21 of the 22 rounds, finishing the season as the league’s second highest try scorers. Gloucester also reached a Heineken Cup quarter-final where they were knocked out by eventual champions, Munster.

Ryan has overseen the growth and continued development of his squad, based on a core of talented young English players like Simpson-Daniel, but also Nick Wood, Luke Narraway, Ryan Lamb, Anthony Allen and Olly Morgan. This season, Ryan has added to that with astute signings like Guinness Premiership Player of the Season nominee Akapusi Qera and Guinness Premiership Player of the Month in December, Alasdair Strokosch.

Ryan beat Bath Rugby’s Steve Meehan to the award, with Harlequins’ Dean Richards finishing third.

The Times Team Performance of the Season was presented by The Times’ rugby correspondent David Hands to London Wasps for their epic 34-42 win over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground on Saturday 16th February, a match regarded by many as the match of the season.

London Wasps also claimed another award as their fly-half Dave Walder won the EDF Energy Community Player of the Season.

Dave arrived at London Wasps with a reputation as a strong supporter of community rugby and this has been borne out by his unstinting work this season.

Most notably, Dave was so moved by working with a young girl who was hearing impaired at Newcastle, that he has now completed a sign language course so he can communicate more effectively with other similar children.

Dave epitomises all that is best in professional rugby players by providing motivation and inspiration for all the children he meets.

Leicester Tigers’ Tom Varndell claimed the Coral Top Try Scorer of the Season award, the second time in three seasons he has finished top of the try scoring standings.

Sale Sharks’ Charlie Hodgson won the Gilbert Golden Boot for his league leading tally of 201 points from the boot.

Finally, Bath Rugby’s Danny Grewcock was named as captain of the Sky Sports Dream Team as selected by Sky Sports analysts Stuart Barnes, Will Greenwood and Dewi Morris.

The award winners in full are:

Guinness Premiership Player of the Season

James Simpson-Daniel, Gloucester Rugby, (winner)
Olly Barkley, Bath Rugby, (second placed)
Akapusi Qera, Gloucester Rugby, (third placed)

also nominated:

Danny Cipriani, London Wasps
Paul Sackey, London Wasps

Land Rover Discovery of the Season

Danny Cipriani, London Wasps, (winner)
Ben Foden, Sale Sharks, (second placed)
Danny Care, Harlequins, (third placed)

also nominated:

Matt Banahan, Bath Rugby
Chris Robshaw, Harlequins

O2 Director of Rugby of the Season

Dean Ryan, Gloucester Rugby, (winner)
Steve Meehan, Bath Rugby, (second placed)
Dean Richards, Harlequins, (third placed)

MBNA Try of the Season

Kai Horstmann, Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors, Friday 29th February 2008, (winner)
James Simpson-Daniel, Gloucester Rugby v Bath Rugby, Saturday 10th May 2008 (second placed)
Fraser Waters, London Wasps v Leeds Carnegie, Sunday 30th September 2007 (third placed)

also nominated:

Johne Murphy, Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby, Saturday 22nd September 2007
Tom Guest, Harlequins v Leeds Carnegie, Saturday 22nd September 2007

The Times Team Performance of the Season

London Wasps for their 34-42 win over Bath Rugby, Saturday 16th February 2008 (winner)

also nominated:

Leicester Tigers for their late 31-28 win over Harlequins in round 22
Worcester Warriors for their 17-14 win over Gloucester Rugby in March

EDF Energy Community Player of the Season

Dave Walder, London Wasps, (winner)

also nominated:

Duncan Bell, Bath Rugby
Andy Kyriacou, Saracens
Joe Shaw, Newcastle Falcons
Sam Tuitupou, Worcester Warriors

Coral Top Try Scorer of the Season

Tom Varndell, Leicester Tigers, 13 tries, (winner)

Gilbert Golden Boot

Charlie Hodgson, Sale Sharks, 201 points, (winner)

Sky Sports Dream Team

1, Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby)
2, Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
3, Matt Stevens (Bath Rugby)
4, Nick Kennedy (London Irish)
5, Danny Grewcock (Bath Rugby) Captain
6, Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
7, Michael Lipman (Bath Rugby)
8, Tom Guest (Harlequins)
9, Michael Claassens (Bath Rugby)
10, Danny Cipriani (London Wasps)
11, Sailosi Tagicakibau (London Irish)
12, Olly Barkley (Bath Rugby)
13, Luke McAlister (Sale Sharks)
14, Paul Sackey (London Wasps)
15, Richard Haughton (Saracens)