Premiership Awards Night 2017

9.6.2017 www.wru.co.uk

Ed Howley and Jacob Botica with their awards
Ed Howley and Jacob Botica with their awards

RGC's Jacob Botica was nominated as Player of the Year during the Principality Premiership annual awards night on Thursday 8th June.

The outside half who helped the Premiership newcomers reach the Tier One semi-finals and lift the WRU National Cup this season, won the support of the Principality Premiership coaches in winning the prestigious award after impressing throughout the season.

Son of former Llanelli great Franco, Botica joins the likes of Phil Dollman, Andrew Coombs, Morgan Stoddart, Dafydd Lockyer and Damien Hudd to collect the gong.

He said, "North Wales is a good place to play rugby and grow a rugby career. We started to believe we belonged here and could do something special this season after winning our opening four games. Reaching the semi-finals was also a highlight and we owe a lot to the belief shown by Mark Jones who has pushed me hard this season, and the other coaches. It's been a special season with the Cup win a major highlight of my career so far."

Neath’s Kieran Williams received the Best Newcomer award, an accolade previously won amongst others by current Lions Alun Wyn Jones and Taulupe Faletau.

The powerful and skilful centre, who came through Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera and Glynneath previously, has impressed in attack and defence this season for the Welsh All Blacks and in Wales U20’s Six Nations campaign, missing out on the World Rugby U20 Championship through injury.

Williams’ team mate, full back Ed Howley collected the Tier Two Player of the Year award. Having joined Neath from Maesteg in January 2016, Howley has gone on to make 47 appearances for the club and scored 309 points last season including 18 tries and representing the Ospreys Regional Select XV.

Aberavon head coach Jason Hyatt picked up the Coach of the Year title having steered his side to the top of the Principality Premiership table when the league split in January and to their first Principality Premiership Final and Adam Jones won the Best Referee award.

Merthyr’s Matthew Jarvis and Neath’s Aaron Grabham were recognised for scoring the most points (244) and tries (15) for their respective clubs, while Llanelli won the Fairplay Award for the best discipline.

Bargoed's David Evans won the Try of the Season award for a score against Neath while Aberavon team manager, groundsman, social club manager and general club stalwart Steve Jones received the Unsung Hero award from WRU Group Chief Executive Martyn Phillips.

WRU Head of Rugby Performance Geraint John said, “The Principality Premiership is a vital competition for the development of our players, coaches and referees.

“The majority of our Wales U20 squad, currently competing at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia, play most of their rugby in the Principality Premiership, along with the British & Irish Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup, so it’s important they have this level of regular, competitive rugby in order to cut their teeth in the senior game.

“Many of our coaches who have gone on to become international pathway coaches learned their trade in the Principality Premiership – the likes of Jason Strange and Geraint Lewis, while current Premiership coaches are now also working closely with the regions through the British & Irish Cup and Anglo-Welsh competitions – the likes of Gareth Wyatt, Greg Woods and Euros Evans so there is a clear pathway for coaches.

“In terms of referees, the Principality Premiership is envied around the world. In recent seasons it has helped greatly in the development of the likes of Craig Evans, who has made a name for himself on the World Sevens Series this season, Dan Jones who is currently in Georgia at the U20 Championship and now Adam Jones is also now refereeing the Rugby Europe Sevens Series.”

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