Gloucester Rugby fly-half Danny Cipriani has been crowned the RPA Players’ Player of the Year at a glittering awards ceremony at Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The influential play-maker polled the most number of votes from his fellow professionals to claim the most prestigious award in the English game, capping off an extraordinary first season as a Gloucester player.
The 31-year-old who was previously named the 2008 RPA’s Young Player of the Year, became just the third player in RPA history to have won both major awards, following in the footsteps of former Wasps wing Christian Wade and England legend Jonny Wilkinson.
In a sensational season, Cipriani has been at the forefront of Gloucester’s Premiership resurgence, with his outstanding form dazzling crowds across the country and guiding the club to their first play-off appearance since 2010/11.
Cipriani said: “It’s very humbling to be named the winner of such a prestigious and special award. Rugby is the ultimate team sport and every day we work exceptionally hard together as a club to improve every aspect of our performance. I would like to thank my fellow professionals for the wonderful recognition and to everyone who has continued to support me along this journey.”
Meanwhile, Ollie Thorley received the backing of his fellow players to be named the Sanlam Young Player of the Year. The electric Gloucester wing has been in breakout form throughout the Premiership, scoring a range of excellent tries and proving a livewire threat for all opposition defences.
Thorley said: “It’s a huge honour to be voted the Sanlam Young Player of the Year by the players you play against every week. 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.”
Other notable winners on the night included Sarah Bern as the England Women’s Player of the Year, Jonny May as the England Men’s Player of the Year, Will Muir as the England Men’s 7s Player of the Year and Leicester Tigers stalwart Mathew Tait was named the 2019 winner of the RPA Special Merit Award.
Our 2019 Winners:
The RPA Players’ Player of the Year
Winner: Danny Cipriani – Gloucester Rugby
“It’s very humbling to be named the winner of such a prestigious and special award. Rugby is the ultimate team sport and every day we work exceptionally hard together as a club to improve every aspect of our performance. I would like to thank my fellow professionals for the wonderful recognition and to everyone who has continued to support me along this journey.”
The Sanlam Young Player of the Year
Winner: Ollie Thorley – Gloucester Rugby
“It’s a huge honour to be voted the Sanlam Young Player of the Year by the players you play against every week. 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 O2 England Women’s Player of the Year
Winner: Sarah Bern
“It’s an amazing feeling to be recognised in this way by my England teammates. 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.”
England Men’s Player of the Year in association with Barclays
Winner: Jonny May
“I am extremely honoured to be named the England Men’s Player of the Year. 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.”
England Women’s 7s Player of the Year in association with Emirates Holidays
Winner: Alex Matthews
“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 teammates and without them I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. I must thank the girls and the whole England 7s team for this humbling recognition.”
England Men’s 7s Player of the Year in association with Emirates Holidays
Winner: Will Muir
“I feel so honoured to have even been nominated for this award, let alone win it. The people around me in this team are incredible and have taught me so much on and off the pitch. I look forward to continue learning on this amazing journey and finishing our season on a high.”
RPA Gain Line Award
Winner: Jamie Gibson – Northampton Saints
“I was thrilled to have won the first award, but I’m blown away to have been selected as the overall winner for 2019. 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. I am a very lucky man to have the opportunity to work every day alongside the woman I love on businesses we’re both extremely passionate about.”
RPA Special Merit Award in association with PKF Francis Clark
Winner: Mathew Tait
“I am truly humbled and privileged to receive this award and would like to thank the RPA Players’ Board for this incredible honour. 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.”
RPA Blyth Spirit Award in association with Towergate Insurance
Winner: Rob Horne
“I am humbled and appreciative to receive the Blyth Spirit Award. 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. 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.”