TOULON BACK ROW Steffon Armitage has been named ERC European Player of the Year for 2014.
The English international was man of the match in Saturday’s 23-6 Heineken Cup final victory over Saracens, where his tireless ball-carrying and breakdown expertise were as vital for the Top 14 side as ever.
28-year-old Armitage started eight of Toulon’s nine games in the competition this season, three of them in the number seven shirt and five at No. 8. He played every minute of the knock-out games against Sarries, Munster and Leinster, as well as completing 80 minutes in four of Toulon’s pool games.
Armitage made 83 carries, 77 tackles [3 missed], 19 turnovers and beat 20 defenders over the course of this year’s European campaign, with many of those contributions coming at key times and with superb technique and physicality.
Included on this season’s shortlist alongside the five-times capped Englishman were teammate Jonny Wilkinson, and Saracens’ trio Schalk Brits, Jacques Burger and Chris Ashton.
The previous winners of the ERC’s award are Jonny Wilkinson , Rob Kearney , Sean O’Brien  and Ronan O’Gara [2010, with that selection taking into account the first 15 years of the ERC's existence].
“This is a great honour, and with us winning another Heineken Cup as well, everything has come together at the right time,” said Armitage.
“There are a lot of big names at Toulon, but we’re like one big family and without my teammates, this individual award wouldn’t have been possible. Also, to follow in the footsteps of Jonny Wilkinson as a winner is really special.”