THE CLUB SEASON is just one weekend away from ending after a nine long months of hard graft.
To celebrate, we’ve picked out some of the men who have made their mark on European rugby outside of the international windows (our Six Nations awards came and went in March).
Now, tighten up that dicky bow and buff those shoes, because the bouncers at TheScore.ie’s very, very fancy awards dinner won’t tolerate any rowdiness before 9pm.
Player of the Season
Toulon centre Matt Giteau has been instrumental in their defence of the European Cup and assault on the Bouclier de Brennus.
His ability to seamlessly switch into the number 10 when required is always useful, but has also delivered timely interventions of genius to turn RCT from a solid, immovable object into an irresistible force.
Young Player of the Season
At 22 Paddy Jackson was a driving force of Ulster’s rise to become Europe’s top seeds at the end of the Heineken Cup pool stage while also showing his defensive prowess in the impressive away victories in Leicester and Montpellier.
Jackson has marked himself out as an out-half with an innate ability to marshal a back-line and when called upon has shown much greater consistency in goal-kicking than the nervous attempts which characterised his debut season.
Coach of the Season
Pro12 finalist Glasgow Warriors are guided by the ethos of Gregor Townsend.
The ex-international has steadily built the Warriors as a club year-on-year, playing a brand of expansive and effective rugby with few household names at his disposal.
Irish Coach of the Season
Grenoble’s form may have gone off the boil in the latter third of the season, but the defensive structures put in place by Bernard Jackman have made the ex-Leinster hooker a highly-respected coach in France and he will take the reins as head coach next season.
Most hilarious drop-goal attempt
Nice one, Mathieu Bastareaud.
Toulon were never short of willing goal-kickers, but when distance was called for, Delon Armitage was the man with the range.
This 55-metre effort against Munster cleared the bar comfortably.Source: Rugbymeet/YouTube
Best try celebration
Andrew Trimble wasn’t even playing in this game, but wins this gong because of the bear suit he’s rocking from 25 seconds in this clip.Source: RaboDirect PRO12/YouTube
Best block down
For defying the perception of his speed and adherence to the laws of gravity, take a bow James Coughlan.
Most Often Sung as Unsung Player of the Season
Don’t sit down, James Coughlan, it’s you again.
Shock Result of the Season
It’s worth re-watching Brendan Leonard’s try that brought about the big shock of the early season – Cardiff Blues 25 Zebre 30 – and Zebre’s first ever win.Source: RaboDirect PRO12/YouTube
Best Turnover of the Season
Brian O’Driscoll delivered this try-saving tackle in tandem with a game-turning turnover against Castres.
Oh, he’ll be missed.Source: Murray Kinsella/YouTube
Second row Pass of the season
Check out the soft hands on Big Michael Swift as Connacht went all Harlem Globetrotters for Robbie Henshaw’s try against Zebre.
Worst TMO decision
What’s even the point of having TMO if you can’t tell a knock-on from an illegal slap down? This is from Munster’s loss to Llanelli.Source: RaboDirect PRO12/YouTube
1. Jack McGrath (Leinster). 2. Schalk Brits (Saracens). 2. Carl Hayman Toulon). 4. Alistair Hargreaves (Saracens). 5. Paul O’Connell (Munster). 6. Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors). 7. Jacques Burger (Saracens). 8. Steffon Armitage (Toulon):9. Rory Kockott (Castres), 10. George Ford (Bath). 11. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors). 12. Matt Giteau (Toulon). 13. Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers). 14. Chris Ashton (Saracens). 15. Metuisela Talebula (Bordeaux Begles).
Which players would you single out for special mention this season?