ESPNscrum Premiership Team of the Year
May 29, 2011
Saracens' Owen Farrell celebrates his inclusion in the ESPNscrum Premiership Team of the Year © Getty Images
Chris Ashton Steve Borthwick Schalk Brits Danny Care Owen Farrell Ben Foden Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu Tom Johnson Courtney Lawes Brian Mujati Soane Tonga'uiha Alesana Tuilagi Manusamoa Tuilagi Thomas Waldrom Tom Wood
As the dust settles on this season's battle for Premiership glory, it is time to select our Team of the Season - who made the grade?
15. Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
We'll forgive the England fullback his off-the-pitch indiscretion and instead concentrate on his eye-catching exploits for the Saints that helped propel them to the Premiership semi-finals.
14. Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
Ashton once again proved more than a handful for Northampton's Premiership rivals with his enviable blend of explosive pace and intelligent angles. His unrivalled support running also helped him to bag 10 tries in the regular season.
13. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
His shocking assault on Ashton during their semi-final clash took a fair amount of the shine off an otherwise outstanding season during which he left a big impression on Premiership defences and pundits alike. Strikes fear into opponents in defence and attack and is not yet the finished article.
12. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu (Gloucester)
The free-running Gloucester centre hit as many headlines with his Twitter account as he did with his rugby but thankfully he did most of his talking on the pitch. May not have sustained that level of performance throughout the season but grabbed four tries and was a star performer within a Gloucester side that rediscovered its cutting edge.
11. Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
A key part of the armoury that powered to a Premiership-leading 67 tries during the regular season. And Tuilagi's 13 try tally - including one in the semi-final victory over the Saints - took Leicester to the brink of another league title.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
The 'promising centre', as his Saracens.com profiles describes him, stepped into the breach following an injury to Derick Hougaard and Alex Goode's failure to make the shirt his own and ended up steering his side to Premiership glory. Along the way the 19-year-old displayed outstanding maturity and robbed Bedford Blues - with whom he had dual registration - of a real jewel.
9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
The Quins scrum-half attacked this season with vigour and a series of commanding and lively displays has arguably leapt above an out-of-sorts Ben Youngs. Formed a deadly partnership with fly-half Nick Evans that although ended in disappointment on the Premiership front, brought glory in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
1. Soane Tonga'uiha (Northampton Saints)
The Tongan powerhouse followed up a superb showing last season with another this term. A tower of strength in the scrum, he also racked up endless metres with ball in hand and helped himself to five tries in the process.
2. Schalk Brits (Saracens)
One of the real stars of the Premiership, Brits' Superman-like display in the Premiership Final set the seal on another headline-grabbing campaign. No other forward scored more than his six tries and his tally of 37 defenders beaten was only beaten by two fleet-footed backs. But his influence goes far beyond his impressive stats.
3. Brian Mujati (Northampton Saints)
The Springboks international stole as many headlines as his propping partner Tonga'uiha as part of a powerful Saints pack that dominated most of their rivals. Equally eager to impress in the loose, he formed the basis of much that was good about Northampton this season.
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
The Saints lock emerged as a potential international star last season and kicked on this term by refining his all-round game. The athleticism and brute force remains but is now complimented by an increased assurance and temperament.
5. Steve Borthwick (Saracens)
The Sarries skipper responded to the England axe by throwing himself into this season's domestic battle and ended it by lifting the Premiership trophy. Perhaps the main reason why the Saracens lineout dominated all-comers this season. He may not be everyone's choice, but you cannot fault his character or his application.
6. Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
One of several members of the Chiefs' squad who made themselves at home amongst the country's best on their first season in the top flight, it was no surprise that Johnson's impressive performances against some of the Premiership's established names brought him to the attention of his namesake and England boss Martin.
7. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
A break-out season for the Saints flanker began with plenty of promise, led to his emergence as an international talent and ended with the honour of being the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year. Season curtailed by injury but he can't complain too loudly.
8. Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
The England-qualified Kiwi was a revelation in the first few months of the season and went on to top the stats for most carries and finish a credible fifth on the list of metres gained - behind four fullbacks. Not shy of the odd drop goal attempt, he fell out of favour towards the end of the season but expect to see his uncharacteristic frame in an England shirt sooner rather than later.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery