Visser claims top PRO12 award
May 7, 2012
The RaboDirect PRO12 Awards%]
Edinburgh's Tim Visser capped another outstanding season by being named the RaboDirect PRO12's Players' Player of the Year in Cardiff on Sunday night.
His graduation from the Young Player of the Year award winner in 2010 to the stand-out star of the current PRO12 season has come despite his club, Edinburgh, struggling to find form on the domestic front. But for the third season running Visser was the competition's leading try scorer with 13 tries and he also earned selection in the PRO12 Dream Team for the third year in-a-row.
Visser followed in the footsteps of Ulster's Ruan Pienaar in picking up the top award of the season and can now look forward to winning his first cap for Scotland this summer when he finally completes his residential qualification.
It was a good night for the Scots as Glasgow Warriors' fullback Stuart Hogg was chosen as the Young Player of the Year following his outstanding progress during the season. The 19-year-old Hogg has made a meteoric rise to fame in his first season as a professional. He had played only two games for the Warriors before the 2011-12 campaign began, but has since firmly established himself in the Warriors' ranks and also won four caps for Scotland in the Six Nations. The Warriors also became the inaugural winners of the 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 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 Golden Boot.
Schmidt steered Leinster to the top of the PRO12 table to clinch home advantage in the play-offs and also guided the reigning European champions to their third Heineken Cup final in four seasons. On Saturday they will face Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 semi-finals at the RDS.
Leinster also picked up another £10,000 cheque to put towards youth development after winning the 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 PRO12 chairman Andy Irvine as he counts down to the end of his incredible career. He helped the Ospreys win three PRO12 titles and also played in the Neath side that lost to Munster in the 2003 final.
He scored a record 58 tries for Wales in 87 Tests and a further two for the British & Irish Lions in four more Test appearances on two tours. He was also voted IRB World Player of the Year in 2008 after helping Wales win a second Grand Slam in four years.
He is due to end his professional career this month when the Ospreys take on Munster in their play-off semi-final at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night. If they win that game then his farewell appearance for his club could be in the final on the weekend of May 26/27.
The other Welsh winner on the night was international referee Nigel Owens. He was awarded the inaugural Straight Talking title for the no-nonsense way in which he communicated with players throughout the season.
RabodDirect PRO12 awards:
RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team 2011-12: Isa Nacewa (Leinster); Tim Visser (Edinburgh), 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), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ben Morgan (Scarlets)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Ireland's Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton