On Wednesday night the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) Awards took place with England Rugby Six Nations stars Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje scooping two of the biggest prizes. The awards are one of the highlights of the rugby season and celebrate the performances and achievements of players from all levels of the game.
Billy Vunipola claims Old Mutual Wealth England Player of the Year Award after stellar campaign
Vunipola was at the heart of the England’s Grand Slam triumph during the 2016 Six Nations. His destructive ball carrying, tireless work-rate and ability to attract defenders made him one of the tournament’s outstanding players.
During the RBS Six Nations Vunipola won the man of the match award on three occasions, but was bizarrely overlooked for the Six Nations Player of the Tournament Award; which went to Scotland’s Stuart Hogg. But this prestigious trophy will definitely make up for that.
— The RPA (@theRPA) 11 May 2016
The 23-year-old has now firmly established himself as one of the world’s premier number eights and will be a key member of Eddie Jones’s plans moving towards the summer tour of Australia and the 2016 Autumn Internationals at Twickenham.
England superstar Maro Itoje takes LV= Young Player of the Year Award
— LV= Rugby (@LVRugby) 11 May 2016
Few players have burst onto the scene in the way that Saracens lock Maro Itoje did during the Six Nations Championships. The 21-year-old was simply outstanding after making his debut off the bench against Italy.
His performances against Ireland and Wales were the best by any player in the whole competition and were a major part of England’s first Grand Slam in 13 years.
His ability at the breakdown, combined with phenomenal athleticism and power have made almost indispensable after just four caps. Itoje is now looking forward to the European Champions Cup Final and Aviva Premiership play-offs with Saracens.
After picking up his award he said: “I’ve still got a big three weeks to go and hopefully we can do what we want to do.
“It’s not a one man game, it a team effort and all the performances are as a team. We are looking good, team morale is high and hopefully we can put in a shift at the weekend.”
Itoje and Vunipola are certainly going to be a major part of the future of English Rugby.
After England’s summer tour to Australia, Eddie Jones’s side return to Twickenham for the 2016 Autumn Internationals, before defending their Six Nations crown.
For more information please see our Twickenham Autumn Internationals hospitality packages page and our Six Nations hospitality packages page.
IMAGE CREDIT – ALASDAIR MASSIE (FLICKR)