Connacht coaches Pat Lam and Dan McFarland, Team Manager Tim Allnutt and captain Craig Clarke all travelled to Edinburgh yesterday evening for the RaboDirect PRO12 Awards 2014.

The first award of the evening, the ‘SpecSavers Fair Play Award’ was received on behalf of Connacht by Craig Clarke. Connacht share the £10, 000 cheque to put towards youth development, with Ulster, who jointly claimed the award for having the fewest yellow and red cards and citings over the 22 games played.

Clarke also accepted the ‘Rhino Collision Kings‘ award on behalf of Connacht who took over from Scarlets as winners after a panel of experts assessed their efficiency at the breakdown and tackling throughout the season.

Dan Biggar (Ospreys) won the ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ Award and Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) the ‘Young Player of the Year’ Award at the RaboDirect PRO12 Awards evening in the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh tonight (Sunday, 11 May).

Dan Biggar had already been named in the RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team for the season last week and scooped the ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ award for his outstanding contribution to the Ospreys season.

Voted for by the 12 RaboDirect PRO12 Captains and Ambassadors, the Ospreys out half beat Glasgow Warriors’ Nikola Matawalu and Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar to the title in an incredibly tight vote. He follows in the footsteps of Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Ruan Piennar (Ulster Rugby), Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby) and Nick Williams (Ulster Rugby) in picking up the prestigious award.

Jonny Gray picked up the ‘Young ‘Player of the Year’ title after not only breaking into and starting in the Glasgow side, but also into the Scottish national team.
He beat Leinster centre Noel Reid to the title and follows in the footsteps of Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) and Luke Marshall (Ulster Rugby) as the RaboDirect PRO12 ‘Young Player of the Year’.

Rob Penney (Munster) won the ‘Coach of the Year’ award after steering Munster into the Play-Offs again. His side put together a record number of wins during the campaign and finished in 3rd place overall to secure an away tie to face Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun next Friday.

Leinster legends Leo Cullen and Brian O’Driscoll both received (in absentia) the ‘Chairman’s Award’ in recognition of their outstanding service to their province, their country, the tournament as a whole and the game of rugby union.

Munster No. 10  JJ Hanrahan scooped the Rhino Golden Boot Award with 87.30% (55 kicks out of  63) with Cardiff Blues outhalf Gareth Davies coming a close second with 86.96%.

RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team 2013/14: 15 – Liam Williams (Scarlets),  14 – Jeff Hassler (Ospreys),  13 – Casey Laulala (Munster),  12 – Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors),  11 – Andrew Trimble (Ulster), 10 – Dan Biggar (Ospreys),  9 – Gareth Davies (Scarlets),  1 – Dave Kilcoyne (Munster),  2 – Sean Cronin (Leinster),  3 – Samson Lee (Scarlets),  4 – Johann Muller (Ulster) CAPTAIN,  5 – Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys),  6 – Rhys Ruddock (Leinster),  7 – Jordi Murphy (Leinster),  8 – Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues)

RABODIRECT PRO12 AWARD WINNERS 2013/14

PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE SEASON       Dan Biggar (Ospreys)

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON           Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors)

COACH OF THE SEASON                          Rob Penney (Munster Rugby)

CHAIRMAN’S AWARD                                 Leo Cullen and Brian O’Driscoll (both Leinster Rugby)
RHINO GOLDEN BOOT                               JJ Hanrahan (Munster Rugby)

RHINO COLLISION KINGS                          Connacht

SPECSAVERS FAIRPLAY AWARD              Ulster and Connacht – Shared

TRY OF THE SEASON                                 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors)

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