Principality Premiership Annual Awards
The Principality Premiership Annual Awards Dinner was held at the National Stadium on Wednesday evening 16th May.
Merthyr wing Kyle Evans won the Player of the Year award, currently top try scorer for the league with 19 after scoring two against Aberavon in the double champions’ final game of the season. He also touched down twice in the Ironmen’s first Cup Final win – against Newport last month.
Evans was presented the award at the annual by Julie-Ann Haines, chief customer officer of Principality who had earlier announced an extension to the Building Society’s sponsorship of the Premiership.
Wales’ summer tour co-captain Cory Hill announced the Best Newcomer award winner as Ebbw Vale wing/ centre Toby Fricker. Fricker has burst into the Ebbw Vale backline with aplomb and his powerful, athletic running and ability to score some key tries for the Steelmen this season have earned up a call-up to the Wales Sevens squad for the Moscow Sevens this coming weekend.
Ebbw Vale head coach Greg Woods said, “Toby is one of the first names on the team-sheet and has really progressed this season, making a big difference at key moments with some important tries and general attacking qualities. He fully deserves his call-up to Wales Sevens and certainly has all the attributes needed to become a professional rugby player. He just needs to keep developing his skills and playing regularly.”
Newport head coach Craig Warlow received the Coach of the Year award from WRU Head of Rugby Performance Geraint John. John said, “It is important to have quality coaches throughout the club game and especially in the Principality Premiership.
“Congratulations to Craig Warlow whose team, Newport enjoyed an uplifting cup run. Craig has developed a tight-knit squad and adopted an entertaining brand of rugby throughout the season.
“I would also like to congratulate Dale McIntosh and his coaching team on guiding Merthyr to the double and pay tribute to the other experienced and upcoming coaches in the Principality Premiership.
“It is part of our strategy to continue to invest in coaching and support Premiership coaches through their coaching journey.”
The Best Player, Coach and Best Newcomer winners were selected by the clubs themselves, who also picked Adam Jones as Referee of the Year. The Top Try Scorer, Points Scorer and Fairplay awards will be announced next week on the conclusion of all matches, while the Try of the Year was selected by the public via the Principality Building Society Facebook page and went to Pontypridd’s Lewis Williams for a great solo effort in his side’s 17-6 win away to Ebbw Vale in September.
The Unsung Hero award was presented to the medical teams of four clubs – Ebbw Vale, Bargoed, Aberavon and Newport. There is strict criteria around medical resource and equipment required for A Licence clubs, and the lives of two supporters were more than likely saved at recent Premiership matches thanks to the expertise of the medical staff and due to the fact that all Premiership teams are equipped with a cardiac defibrillator. Ross Cornwell, a 28-year-old Newbridge player was watching Bargoed v Ebbw Vale and Don Morgan, a lifelong Aberavon supporter was at Aberavon v Newport last month when they collapsed and have paid tribute to the four club medical teams.
WRU president Dennis Gethin presented the award and said, “We know that clubs at all levels of the game in Wales rely on an army of volunteers who carry out a whole host of essential roles within their clubs. This evening, we wanted to pay tribute to Premiership medical teams and in particular the four teams who more than likely saved the lives of two supporters recently. The importance of the A Licence criteria in stipulating that teams must have qualified medical staff and vital equipment including defibrillators was more keenly felt than ever, especially for those individuals who were taken ill and their families.”