We’re looking at some of the front-runners for the Championship and National Leagues’ Players of the Year to honour in our inaugural Rugby Paper Awards.
London Irish booked their return to the Premiership last weekend but Ealing Trailfinders pushed them close and the two sides will meet again this weekend in the Championship Cup final.
Irish lock/flanker Josh McNally has been exceptional and is set to become the latest in a long line of players to make the move from the Exiles to Bath. At 6ft 7ins and 19st plus, he offers a real physical presence around the park and has played a huge part in their successful campaign.
London Irish’s No.8 Matt Rogerson has also been a standout since his move from Jersey.
Ealing back row pair Jordy Reid and Rayn Smid have also been oustanding. Former Melbourne Rebel Reid has been a dynamo over the ball since arriving from Australia last summer and took the club’s players’ player of the year award, while Smid’s leadership skills have come to the fore. He started every Championship game for Ealing this season, scoring 11 tries.
Hartpury fly-half Sam Leeming has played a big part in their survival, while the form of Jersey No.10 Brett Herron has earned him a move to Harlequins. Richmond prop Will Goodrick-Clarke has impressed, earning a move to London Irish.
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The National Leagues’ Player of the Year award, sponsored by the Rugby Journal, is also set to see a tough field of nominees.
Chinnor wing Craig Holland has scores 25 tries this season – five more tries than anyone else in National One – plus 50 points with the boot. Elsewhere Tom White (Old Elthamians), James Williams (Birmingham Moseley) and Warren Seals (DMP) have also impressed. White has been the driving force in an excellent season for Old Ethamians with 250 points.
In Nat 2 North, Lewis Minikin (Hull Ionians) is top points scorer for the league’s top side and has been at the heart of everything good this season, while Morgan Passman (Tynedale) ran in 31 tries.
In Nat 2 South fly-half Matthew McLean (Worthing) scored 19 tries as part of a points tally in excess of 300 points.
Hooker Ryan Jackson has also been excellent for (Tonbridge Juddians). This award is sponsored by The Rugby Journal, which brings the stories from our game, beautifully told, from grassroots rugby up to the elite, and everything in between.
The winners will be decided by your votes and will be honoured at a star-studded lunch at the Twickenham Stoop on Wednesday May 29 in the week before the Premiership final across the road at Twickenham.
Along with the rest of the nominees for the awards listed in the panel on the left, they will be considered by our judges, including columnists Jeremy Guscott and Jeff Probyn plus our star writers Nick Cain and Peter Jackson.
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