Connacht dominate Guinness awards night

Connachts Bundee Aki claimed the Guinness Players Player of the Season awardConnachts Bundee Aki claimed the Guinness Players Player of the Season award
Connachts Bundee Aki claimed the Guinness Players Player of the Season award
The main awards at Sunday night's Guinness PRO12 awards ceremony were scooped by Irish province Connacht.

While Ulster picked up the Specsavers play fair award, it was Connacht who took centre stage at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

Players, coaches and key personnel from all 12 clubs involved in the championship were in attendance to celebrate the 2015/16 season.

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The black tie event followed a memorable final round 22 on Saturday that saw Leinster, Connacht, Glasgow Warriors and Ulster qualify for the Guinness PRO12 Play-Offs in a fortnight’s time.

Connacht, who have been the surprise package of the 15/16 season, collected three awards and made up nearly half of the ‘Guinness PRO12 Dream Team’.

The Galway outfit’s centre, Bundee Aki, clinched the coveted ‘Guinness Players’ Player of the Season’ – voted for by all 12 captains and vice-captains of the Guinness PRO12 teams – ahead of Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) and CJ Stander (Munster).

Their head coach, Pat Lam was named ‘Guinness PRO12 Coach of the Season’ and captain John Muldoon, who is celebrating his 13th professional season at Connacht, was presented the prestigious ‘Guinness PRO12 Chairman’s Award’ by Welsh rugby legend and chairman of PRO12 Rugby, Gerald Davies.

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Ospreys’ 22 year old outside-half, Sam Davies, was voted ‘Young Player of the Season’ by a selected media panel ahead of Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier (both Leinster).

Fans voted Glasgow Warriors’ Tommy Seymour the victor of ‘Sky Sports Try of the Season’.

The Scottish international polled 28.5 per cent of the vote for his round 18 try against Ulster and pipped Craig Gilroy (Ulster v Treviso, round three) and Bundee Aki (Munster v Connacht, round 18) to the title.

The battle for the ‘Rhino Golden Boot Award’ went right down to the wire on the last day of the regular season.

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The prize, that is based on the percentage kicking accuracy of all players who have kicked more than 30 attempts at goal, was clinched by Cardiff Blues’ Gareth Anscombe with 81.25 per cent (26 successes from 32 attempts) Ulster won the ‘Specsavers Fair Play Award’ and £10,000 to spend on their youth development programme.

The Irish province pipped Ospreys to the top of the Specsavers Fair Play League with just six yellow cards and no citing commissioner warnings, red cards or upheld proven citing complaints.

Guinness PRO12 team of season

15: Isa Nacewa, Leinster, Captain

14: Matt Healy, Connacht

13: Bundee Aki, Connacht

12: Ben Te’o, Leinster

11: Craig Gilroy, Ulster

10: Sam Davies, Ospreys

9: Kieran Marmion, Connacht

1: Dennis Buckley, Connacht

2: Tom McCartney, Connacht

3: Finlay Bealham, Connacht

4: Leone Nakarawa, Glasgow

t5, Ultane Dillane, Connacht; CJ Stander, Munster

7: Josh Van Der Flier, Leinster

8: Cornell du Preez, Edinburgh.

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