- Awards took place at Twickenham Stadium
- May, Bern, Muir and Matthews win England awards
The winners of the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) Awards 2019 have been announced in a ceremony at Twickenham Stadium.
The RPA Players' Awards look to honour those for their outstanding contributions over the course of the season as well as recognising off-field achievements of players - here is how the night unfolded.
The England Men's Player of the Year in association with Barclays saw Jonny May beat off competition from nominees Tom Curry and Mark Wilson to take the award.
“I am extremely honoured to be named the England Men’s Player of the Year," said Leicester wing May.
"I am not normally motivated by personal awards but to have the support of my England teammates is a privilege and inspiration. I love playing with these guys, it’s been an enjoyable season with England and I can’t wait to pull on the white shirt again.”
The O2 England Women's Player of the Year was awarded to prop Sarah Bern who was picked ahead of Katy Daley-Mclean and Sarah McKenna as the standout performer over the season, including the Red Roses winning the Women's Six Nations Grand Slam.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be recognised in this way by my England teammates," said Bristol Bears Women forward Bern.
"Having been injured and having worked so hard to get back to this point, I am overwhelmed and thankful to everyone who has been there and supported me throughout my career. It’s an honour to be a member of this England team, and especially at the age of 21, I am shocked to have such incredible recognition.”
Onto sevens, and the England Men's Sevens Player of the Year in association with Emirates Holidays was secured by youngster Will Muir following his impressive breakthrough season.
"The people around me in this team are incredible and have taught me so much on and off the pitch," said Muir. "I look forward to continue learning on this amazing journey and finishing our season on a high.”
In the England Women's Sevens Player of the Year in association with Emirates Holidays, it was Alex Matthews who took home the award ahead of Abbie Brown and Holly Aitchison.
Matthews said: “It’s an incredible honour to be named the winner of this award for the second season in a row. I cherish the support of my team mates and without them I wouldn’t be in the position I am today."
Fly half Danny Cipriani was awarded the RPA Players' Player of the Year award for his performances across the Gallagher Premiership season for Gloucester. He took the final prize of the night ahead of Faf de Klerk, Satiago Cordero, Cobus Reinach and Henry Slade.
“It’s very humbling to be named the winner of such a prestigious and special award," said 31-year-old Cipriani. "Rugby is the ultimate team sport and every day we work exceptionally hard together as a club to improve every aspect of our performance."
#RPAAwards19 | The final award of the evening goes to @gloucesterrugby's @DannyCipriani87, who wins @theRPA's Players' Player of the Year Award— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) May 8, 2019
➡ https://t.co/CVVIl2ubGj pic.twitter.com/lQTekKwI3b
It was two Premiership awards for Gloucester on the night as Ollie Thorley was chosen ahead of Joe Cokanasiga, Tom Curry, Alex Dombrandt and Rory Hutchinson for the Sanlam Young Player of the Year.
Thorley said: "All of the guys nominated would have been deserved winners, so I am very humbled. Most significantly though, I’m proud of what Gloucester have achieved so far this season and I can't wait for the upcoming play-offs.”
The first award of the might was presented to Jamie Gibson as the Northampton Saint won the RPA Gain Line Award for his pro-activity in off-field achievements.
"Any recognition is hugely appreciated, but when I look around and see so many other players getting stuck in with their own talents and interests off the pitch, it’s a huge compliment to have been chosen as the winner," said Gibson.
After announcing his retirement earlier this season because of injury, Mathew Tait was given the RPA Special Merit Award as recognition across his career playing for England, Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers.
"I have been extremely lucky to have enjoyed a career at three great clubs, represented my country, and made so many amazing memories which I can take with me into my retirement and my next chapter," said Tait.
The former Northampton Saints and Australia centre Rob Horne was honoured with the RPA Blyth Spirit Award in association with Towergate Insurance, recognising tremendous courage in the face of adversity in the way he dealt with his career-ending injury he suffered in a game against Leicester that left his right arm paralysed.
"I want to thank the rugby community as a whole for their unwavering support during a life-changing event. The thing about life-changing injuries is that they change lives, for everyone involved," said Horne.
"My brachial plexus injury has challenged me but also enlightened me through exposure to new experiences, inspiring people and different perspectives. I don't believe that things happen for a reason, I believe that things happen, then it’s up to you as to what happens next."
Sarah Bern has had an outstanding season for the Red Roses
Will Muir broke into the England set-up a year ago just before the Sevens World Cup
Mathew Tait was forced to retire from rugby in February
Danny Cipriani is in his first season at Gloucester after joining from Wasps
Ollie Thorley has scored six tries in 16 appearances this season