Youngs takes top Premiership gong

Thu, 09 May 2013 17:09
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Leicester Tigers hooker Tom Youngs was named the Premiership Player of the Season at the awards ceremony on Thursday.

Leicester Tigers hooker Tom Youngs was named the Premiership Player of the Season at the awards ceremony on Thursday.

Youngs has made an unprecedented move from playing centre at the Leicester Tigers to hooker and in an incredible season became England’s first-choice, while winning a place on the British and Irish Lions tour.

The son of former England player Nick Youngs and brother to current England and Leicester Tigers scrumhalf Ben Youngs, Tom has established himself in the Tigers front row this season.

Educated at Gresham's in Holt, Youngs has made a big impression on the international scene in a very short time. Since making his England debut against Fiji last November, he has appeared in nine consecutive Test matches, eight of them in the starting line-up.

The Test against Fiji at Twickenham also saw him and Ben become the first siblings to appear together for England since the Armitages, Delon and Steffon, in 2009.   

"His story is extraordinary," said Premiership Rugby Director Phil Winstanley.

"To move from the centre to hooker is practically unheard of in professional rugby. To then go on to make your England debut and a Lions tour the following season is what dreams are made of!”

“If you'd suggested such a move could be done a few years ago in Premiership Rugby people would have doubted your sanity, but Tom has proved almost anything is possible.

“I am sure that he will be the first to tell you that this award is also a tribute to the coaching staff at Leicester Tigers who have helped him every step of the way.

“He wouldn't be on the Lions tour and have become England's first-choice hooker without their patience, dedication and expertise and it is such a positive endorsement of the Leicester Tigers academy system which has produced Tom and five of his team mates for this year’s Lions tour.

"Tom certainly didn't get it his own way in the voting with every player on the shortlist getting significant support. In the end though, it was Tom's positional move and what he has achieved in such a short time that edged it his way."

The Premiership Player of the Season award isn’t Youngs’ only accolade from the Premiership Awards as he was selected in the Dream Team which was, for the first time, selected by supporters of Premiership Rugby.

More than 1,000 votes via Twitter were cast for the team and Youngs was joined in it by his brother and six other Leicester Tigers.

The full team is: 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens), 2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), 4 Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), 5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), 6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), 7 Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers), 8 Richie Baxter (Exeter Chiefs); 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 10 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers); 11 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), 12 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers); 13 Christian Wade (London Wasps), 14 Tom Varndell (London Wasps) and 15 Luke Arscott (Exeter Chiefs).

Parling and Flood are the only two players to appear in the Dream Team for the second consecutive season.

The Discovery of the Season award, presented to the best player aged 23 years or under on the day of the Premiership Final (May 25, 2013), was won by London Wasps lock Joe Launchbury.

Again it was Launchbury’s remarkable rise in such a short space of time from relative unknown to England regular that impressed the judges.

The London Wasp beat off an impressive field to take home the gong.

The final major award, the Director of Rugby of the Season, was presented to Mark McCall, who steered his Saracens team to the top of the Premiership table, before the semifinals, for the first time in their history.

Over 22 rounds, McCall’s Saracens lost just four games, finishing three points clear of the Leicester Tigers.

The Try of the Season award went to Leicester Tigers’ Dan Bowden who finished off a length of the field move against Saracens.

The Premiership Awards evening began with one of the most famous figures in Premiership Rugby, Shaun Perry, receiving the Community Player of the Season award for his tireless work on a number of community projects.

The race for the Golden Boot went down to the final few minutes of the final match with Gloucester’s Freddie Burns and Exeter Chiefs’ Gareth Steenson in a straight shoot out for the title.

Burns won by a single point (240) from Steenson (239) with Harlequins’ Nick Evans in third with 222.

Nothing could separate London Wasps duo Tom Varndell and Christian Wade in the try-scoring stakes.

Varndell went into the final round of the Premiership two ahead of Wade, who promptly went over for a brace to match Varndell’s impressive tally of 13 tries. The two men share the Top Try Scorer award.

Varndell and Wade produced some match-winning performances this season but it was Harlequins fullback Ollie Lindsay-Hague who turned in the best individual performance in 132 matches this season.

Lindsay-Hague turned in a mesmerising performance against London Welsh to win the Game Changer of the Season award.

Concluding the list of award winners was London Irish’s Jonathan Joseph who was named the Premiership Sevens Series Player of the Season, as London Irish lifted the trophy in a pulsating final at The Recreation Ground against Gloucester.

The winners and nominees in full were as follows:

Premiership Player of the Season
Winner: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Shortlist: Steve Borthwick (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins), Akapusi Qera (Gloucester), Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Tom Youngs  (Leicester Tigers)

Discovery of the Season
Winner: Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Shortlist: Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Jonny May (Gloucester), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Luke Wallace (Harlequins)

Director of Rugby of the Season
Winner: Mark McCall (Saracens)
Shortlist: Richard Cockerill (Leicester Tigers), Lyn Jones (London Welsh), Mark McCall (Saracens), Dai Young (London Wasps)

Try of the Season
Winner: Dan Bowden (Leicester Tigers v Saracens – 23.2.13)
Shortlist: Christian Wade (London Wasps v Harlequins - 1.9.12), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors – 8.9.12), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby v London Wasps – 22.9.12), Dan Bowden (Leicester Tigers v Saracens – 23.2.13), Elliot Daly (London Wasps v Northampton Saints – 23.3.13)

Game Changer of the Season
Winner: Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins)
Runners up: Mike Brown (Harlequins) – 2nd, Billy Vunipola (London Wasps) – 3rd.

Community Player of the Season
Winner: Shaun Perry (Worcester Warriors)
Shortlist: Myles Dorian (Exeter Chiefs), Tinus Du Plessis (London Wasps), Soane Tong’uiha (Northampton Saints), Jamie George (Saracens) and Shaun Perry (Worcester Warriors)

Premiership Sevens Series Player of the Season
Winner: Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
Shortlist: Alex Gray (London Irish), Aaron Myers (London Welsh), Ian Clark (Gloucester), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)

Top Try Scorer of the Season
Winners: Tom Varndell and Christian Wade (both London Wasps) – 13 tries

Golden Boot
Winner: Freddie Burns (Gloucester) – 240 points
Runner-up: Gareth Steenson (Exeter Chiefs) – 239 points

Dream Team
1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens), 2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), 4 Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), 5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), 6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), 7 Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers), 8 Richie Baxter (Exeter Chiefs); 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 10 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers); 11 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), 12 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers); 13 Christian Wade (London Wasps), 14 Tom Varndell (London Wasps) and 15 Luke Arscott (Exeter Chiefs).

Past winners
Premiership Player of the Season
, 2011-12: Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), 2010-11: Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), 2009-10: Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), 2008-9: Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), 2007-8:  James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester). 2006-7: Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers). 2005-6:  Mike Catt (London Irish) and 2004-5:  Martin Corry (Leicester Tigers)
Young Player of the Season, 2011-12: Owen Farrell (Saracens), 2010-11: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), 2009-10:  Ben Youngs, (Leicester Tigers), 2008-9: Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), 2007-8: Danny Cipriani (London Wasps), 2006-7: Tom Rees (London Wasps), 2005-6: Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers) and 2004-5: Ollie Smith, (Leicester Tigers)
Director of Rugby of the Season, 2011-12: Rob Baxter (Exeter Chiefs), 2010-11: Jim Mallinder (Northampton Saints), 2009-10: Andy Key, (Leeds Carnegie), 2008-9: Richard Cockerill (Leicester Tigers), 2007-8:  Dean Ryan (Gloucester), 2006-7: Pat Howard (Leicester Tigers), 2005-6: Philippe Saint-Andre (Sale Sharks), and 2004-5: John Wells (Leicester Tigers)

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