The RaboDirect Pro12 ‘dream team’ for the season 2011/2012 was announced last week. There is a fair mix of representation of players from Irish, Welsh and Scottish clubs with no Italian clubs having any players in the team. On Sunday evening, in Cardiff, various awards for this season were handed out with the accolade for player of the season going to Edinburgh try scoring machine Tim Visser.
Of interest is the presence of three South Africans in the team namely Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar, Leinster’s Richardt Strauss and Munster’s BJ Botha.
The inclusion of particularly Pienaar and Botha in the ‘dream team’ may attract the interest of new Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Should Pienaar be able to replicate his form at international level he could be a valuable member of the squad with his versatility to play in various positions in the backline as well as his goal kicking ability.
By various accounts there have not been any standout players for South Africa in this year’s Super 15 so far, which is where strong scrumming Botha could come in handy.
Edinburgh Rugby ‘s try-scoring sensation, Tim Visser, followed up his inclusion in the RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team for the third successive season by being named as the tournament’s ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ at the annual presentation evening in Cardiff tonight.
The award completes a rugby graduation at the club having scooped the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award winner in 2010, and underlines his position as the stand-out star of the current RaboDirect PRO12 season.
For the third year running Visser was the competition’s leading try scorer, notching a sensational 37 tries in 57 (43 in 74 in all competitions), with last night’s score against Treviso taking his 2011/12 tally to 17, his highest yet in a single season.
In his three seasons at Edinburgh Rugby, Visser has been voted ‘Young Player of the Year’, been in the ‘Dream Team’ each season (no other players has achieved this), taken the season’s try record up to 14 (he was one short of that this season) and now been voted ‘Player’s Player of the Year’.
Visser followed in the footsteps of Ulster Rugby’s Ruan Pienaar in picking up the top award of the season and can now hopes to win his first cap for Scotland this summer when he completes his residential qualification.
It was a good night for the Scots as Glasgow Warriors’ full back Stuart Hogg was chosen as the ‘Young Player of the Year’, following his outstanding progress during the season.
Glasgow Warriors’ 19-year-old full-back Stuart Hogg picked up the Young Player of the Season award two days after being crowned Glasgow Warriors’ ‘Young Player of the Season’ and has made a meteoric rise to fame in his first season as a professional.
The Warriors, who had three players named in the ‘Dream Team’, also became the inaugural winners of the ‘Rhino Collision Kings’ title after a panel of experts assessed their efficiency at the breakdown and tackling.
Double-chasing Leinster picked up three awards as they received a timely boost ahead of their push for back-to-back Heineken Cup wins and a first RaboDirect PRO12 Final triumph.
Joe Schmidt took over from Munster’s Tony McGahan as the ‘Coach of the Year’ and Jonathan Sexton won the battle of the kickers to take home the ‘Rhino Golden Boot’.
Sexton replaced Irish outside half rival Ronan O’Gara as the winner of the ‘Rhino Golden Boot’, presented to the most consistent marksman in the competition.
He ended with a 90% goal-kicking success rate from his six appearances, including a run of 13 successive goals.
Leinster also picked up another £10,000 cheque to put towards youth development after winning the ‘SpecSavers Fair Play Award’ for the second season in a row for having the fewest yellow and red cards and citings over the 22 games.
Ospreys legend Shane Williams picked up the ‘Chairman’s Award’ from RaboDirect PRO12 chairman Andy Irvine as he counts down to the end of his incredible career.
The other Welsh winner on the night was international referee Nigel Owens. He was awarded the inaugural ‘RaboDirect Straight Talking’ title for the no-nonsense way in which he communicated with players throughout the season.
RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team 2011/12: Isa Nacewa (Leinster); Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Casey Laulala (Cardiff Blues), Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues); Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster); Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), BJ Botha (Munster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), Dave Denton (Edinburgh Rugby), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ben Morgan (Scarlets)
RABODIRECT PRO12 AWARD WINNERS 2011/12
PLAYER’S PLAYER OF THE SEASON – Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby)
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON – Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
COACH OF THE SEASON – Joe Schmidt (Leinster Rugby)
CHAIRMAN’S AWARD – Shane Williams (Ospreys)
RHINO GOLDEN BOOT – Jonathan Sexton (Leinster Rugby)
RHINO COLLISION KINGS – Glasgow Warriors
SPECSAVERS FAIRPLAY AWARD – Leinster Rugby
RABODIRECT STRAIGHT TALKING AWARD – Nigel Owens
TRY OF THE SEASON – TBC