Wood named Player of the Season
May 10, 2011
Saints flanker Tom Wood has capped a superb season with the Aviva Premiership Player of the Season award © Getty Images
Kevin Barrett Schalk Brits Jimmy Gopperth Tom Johnson Soane Tonga'uiha Alesana Tuilagi Manusamoa Tuilagi Tom Wood
Northampton flanker Tom Wood scooped the Aviva Premiership Player of the Season award in London on Tuesday night.
In a notable double for the Saints, director of rugby Jim Mallinder also picked up an award with Leicester's Manu Tuilagi named the Discovery of the Season. Tuilagi's older brother and team-mate Alesana was also amongst the winners as the Premiership's leading tryscorer.
The Coventry-born Wood only joined Northampton this season after having come through the Worcester Warriors Academy, making 48 Premiership appearances with the Warriors before his summer move to Franklin's Gardens.
The 24-year-old made his competitive debut for Saints in their win over Leicester on the opening day of the season. His England debut followed during the Six Nations and such has been his impact that he signed a new two year contract, despite still having a year left on his initial agreement with the club.
Northampton go into May with a chance of claiming a domestic and European double, with an Premiership semi-final against Leicester Tigers this weekend to be followed by the Heineken Cup Final against Leinster. Saints opened their 2010/11 Premiership campaign with a win against Leicester Tigers and led the league at the turn of the year. Postponements, injuries and the loss of a number of players to international duty saw their league form suffer, but Mallinder guided them to a semi-final place with a win over Leeds Carnegie on the final day of the regular season.
In tandem with their strong league form, Saints are the only side to win all their matches in the Heineken Cup this season.
It was also a good night for Saracens, who won three awards, with hooker Schalk Brits claiming the Try of the Year honour for his effort against Gloucester last month and scrum-half Kevin Barrett and lock Hayden Smith winning the J.P. Morgan Asset Management 7s Series Player of the Season and Community Player of the Season accolades.
Newcastle's prolific fly-half Jimmy Gopperth picked up the Golden Boot as the Premiership's leading scorer while newcomers Exeter were also able to celebrate with flanker Tom Johnson getting the nod for the Performance of the Season for his display against Sale last November.
Northampton dominated the ESPN Dream Team, picked by ESPN's analysts Austin Healey and Ben Kay, thanks to the selection of winger Chris Ashton, props Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati, lock Courtney Lawes and Wood. Leicester boasted three players with centres Manu Tuilagi and Anthony Allen joined by No.8 Thomas Waldrom as did Saracens with winger David Strettle, Brits and flanker Jacques Burger all making the grade. Exeter's Tom Hayes was named as captain of the side for his inspirational leadership during the Chiefs first season in the Premiership.
Aviva Premiership Player of the Season: Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
QBE Director of Rugby of the Season: Jim Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
Land Rover Discovery of the Season: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
MBNA Try of the Season: Schalk Brits (Saracens) v Gloucester, April 24, 2011
Gatorade Performance of the Season: Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs) v Sale Sharks, November 27, 2010
J.P. Morgan Asset Management 7s Series Player of the Season: Kevin Barrett (Saracens)
Guinness Top Tryscorer: Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Gilbert Golden Boot: Jimmy Gopperth (Newcastle Falcons)
Aviva Community Player of the Season: Hayden Smith (Saracens)
ESPN Dream Team: Mike Brown (Harlequins), David Strettle (Saracens), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Jimmy Gopperth (Newcastle Falcons), Danny Care (Harlequins), Soane Tonga'uiha (Northampton Saints), Schalk Brits (Saracens), Brian Mujati (Northampton Saints), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Hayes (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Jacques Burger (Saracens), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
The judging panel featured Paul Morgan (Mail on Sunday, Rugby World, Chairman Rugby Union Writers' Club), Mick Cleary (Daily Telegraph), Alastair Eykyn (BBC), Miles Harrison (Sky Sports), Neale Harvey (Rugby Times), Nick Mullins (ESPN), Phil Winstanley (Rugby Director, Premiership Rugby).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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