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Brits scoops Player of the Year honour
Scrum.com
May 27, 2010
Saracens' Schalk Brits, winner of the RPA's Player of the Year 2010, poses with 2009 winner London Irish's Seilala Mapusua, Rugby Players' Association Awards, London, England, May 26, 2010
The 2010 RPA Player of the Year Schalk Brits poses with 2009 winner Seilala Mapusua © Getty Images
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Saracens hooker Schalk Brits has been rewarded for an outstanding season by being voted the Rugby Players' Association Player of the Year.

Brits, who will play for Saracens against Leicester in Saturday's Premiership final, beat Northampton prop Soane Tonga'uiha into second place with Saints and England fullback Ben Foden third. Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs was named Young Player of the Year to complete a trophy treble, having already been voted Premiership discovery of the season and Leicester's Player of the Year.

"This is a fantastic and very unexpected honour, and I'm proud and humbled to receive this award," said Brits, who collected his award in London. "To be rated by your peers is the greatest compliment that one could receive, and that is what makes receiving this award so unbelievable.

"The last 12 months since I arrived in the UK have been absolutely phenomenal on and off the pitch and now having this to add to everything else is very special indeed. I've loved playing for Saracens, playing in the Premiership and the progress that we have made together as a club this year has been incredibly rewarding.

"There's something special happening at Saracens and I am happy to be part of it. Now we have one more game to play, and we are looking forward to giving it our all in the final on Saturday. Winning the final would obviously end the season on the ultimate high."

Youngs claimed the Nick Duncombe Memorial Award ahead of another Northampton pair in Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes. "Since the start of this season things have just got better and better for me, better than I could ever have hoped for, and to receive this award on top of all that is a massive honour and a privilege" said Youngs, who broke into the England team during the Six Nations.

"Tigers have one more big day this season, at Twickenham on Saturday. Defending our Premiership title is something the whole squad have worked very hard for throughout the season, and we will be giving everything we have on Saturday to retain that title. To win that on top of this award would be the perfect way to end the season."

England lock Simon Shaw won the special merit award for his contribution to the game and Bill McLaren was posthumously inducted into the RPA Hall of Fame. Andy Ripley, the former England international, received the Blyth Spirit Award for his outstanding courage in the face of adversity.

Ripley was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, since when he has worked closely with the Prostate Cancer Charity to raise awareness of the disease and encourage men to get tested as a preventative measure. After three years in remission, his cancer returned in 2008.

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