Five teams are represented in The Rugby Paper’s Championship team of the year and although Bristol have the lion’s share with five, runners-up Ealing Trailfinders and third-placed Bedford Blues have pushed them hard in our selection, with both sides contributing three to the lineup.
Jersey Reds, who finished fifth, also enjoyed a stellar season and two of their players make the lineup, while one Doncaster Knight and one Cornish Pirate make up the remaining places.
A major component in the Jersey juggernaut pack which one of the very best in the league. Yorkshire Carnegie’s Marc Thomas was second choice.
A fast and mobile hooker who scores tries regularly for the runners-up. Nottingham’s Jimmy Stevens was consistently top draw in his set piece work and came
a close second.
A teak-tough tighthead who, like Woolmore, has earned a move to Bristol. Colin Quigley
(Doncaster) was rock-solid at scrum time.
Solid, consistent grafter who was exceptional in the line-out. Bristol’s Joe Joyce pushed him close for his unbelievable work-rate in attack and defence.
Astonishing longevity from the veteran who finally hung up his boots at season end, having never lost the ability to show young pretenders a thing or two and inspire his team-mates. Bristol’s Chris Vui was outstanding before injury at the end of January.
The All Black is a ferocious competitor who smashes holes with ball in hand and hits his full weight in the tackle. Hugely aggressive and committed, just Shaded Ealing’s Kieran Murphy.
His support play was excellent and works hard at the breakdown. Bristol’s turnover merchant Dan Thomas pushed him close.
Dual-registered with Exeter, Lawday showed real quality with ball in hand and consistently got over the gain line. Ealing’s older statesman Mark Bright and Joe Atkinson from London Scottish ran him close.
Quick-fire scrum-half whose darting breaks often led to him scoring tries or setting up team-mates. The Welshman was pushed all the way by his replacement at Bristol next season, Hartpury’s Harry Randall.
The top points scorer in the league, the Irish fly-half’s calm accuracy from tee and out of hand make him the best in the league. Nottingham’s Bristol-bound Tiff Eden also impressed
A constant danger and liable to leave the toughest defender tackling thin air. Jersey’s Australian flier Tom Pincus misses out.
Expect the unexpected when ‘Booj’ gets the ball! A top class centre who’s not afraid to put his willowy frame where it hurts. Tusi Pisi was a class act for Bristol.
Powerful and creative player who handles well and makes threatening bursts – played a significant role in many of his side’s 100 tries. Hartpury’s Steve Leonard has a fine season.
The league’s top try-scorer with 17 – not just a finisher but someone who’ll go looking for the ball to make things happen. Cornish Pirates speedster Kyle Moyle also impressed.
The best attacking full- back in the league and a regular try scorer. Chris Elder (Yorkshire C) impressed with his pace, power and defensive steel.