Sorry we’ve been a bit quiet of late but there has been some top quality sport on this “summer” and almost none of it was rugby. Congratulations Wiggins and the Olympians!
Still, rugby has always been at the back of our minds with pre-season starting for club players all over the country and we’ve seen the pro-teams start theirs with the odd bit of news – former B&I Lion Andy Titterell has signed as backup for injured hooker Steve Lawrie, and WP Nel has arrived in the capital after the Super 15 finished for all but the finalists. Glasgow are out in the South of France in camp with a friendly against Castres, and although neither Max Evans or any of the other internationals will feature our Club Player of the year will get a run out.
It was a helter-skelter season in Scottish rugby, from the lows of an early exit from the World Cup in New Zealand and a wooden spoon in the Six Nations to the highs of semi-final rugby in the league for Glasgow and in Europe for Edinburgh, a successful summer tour and another winning season for Melrose in Premier One.
Along the way, new talent was unearthed, faithful servants retired and some unfulfilled talents re-emerged to prominent positions on the Scottish Rugby stage.
Without further ado here are the results as voted for by you, the Scottish rugby faithful.
This poll was dominated by the top two from the outset, but Talei had obviously made an impact on the fans the same as the one he made on the pitch. Initially vying with Denton and McInally for control of the Edinburgh Number 8 shirt, by the end of the season he had turned Denton into a 6 and kept “Rambo” glued to the bench. Visser and Talei may face stiff competition next time out with a raft of new overseas players to vote for in both pro-team squads.
Denton and Hogg were about even going into the summer tour but the eventual winner was no doubt again boosted by his presence on the summer tour while Denton had to stay at home. On tour Hogg made fewer of the trademark scything runs that earned even the admiration of Jonathan Davies during the Six Nations, but it is clear that a young player clearly blessed with talent and all important confidence has made an impression. There was a smaller turnout for Warrior Nation favourite Duncan Weir but perhaps his lack of chances to make an impact at international level impacted this.
Probably the closest result across all the competitors. In a year where Melrose scrapped to a second consecutive title one man encapsulated their run. While Gala celebrated a glorious return to the top and a Cup victory; while Dundee were pushing for a first ever title, Fraser Thomson was scarpering about drawing the attention of fans and pundits. Melrose did enough to secure a trophy, and a lot of that came down to their exciting style. A lot of that excitement in turn came down to Thomson’s running from deep. A consummate Club International, Thomson showed his dangerous streak all year, breaking loose from fullback or wing. He always looked confident with ball in hand. Of course, with great form comes great opportunity. After years of being a Premier One stand-out, Thomson has been snapped up by Glasgow Warriors. He has all the equipment to take the next step.
This was a near three-way tie until very late in the race when Rennie pulled clear, possibly on the back of some great games on the summer tour that cemented his position as one of (if not) the top opensides in the Home Nations. Having struggled with injuries throughout his career, last season he threw off the shackles and fulfilled the promise long talked of, showing a powerful blend of athleticism and tenacity while remaining on the right side of referees – key qualities for an openside. If he can maintain form and fitness he would be a clear challenger for Sam Warburton for the Lions 7 shirt, in what could well be one of the strongest and trickiest Lions back row selections for years.
Thanks to all the players and media managers that helped us out with a wee thank-you speech and to the lovely Caroline Henderson for presenting the video links. Any lack in finesse above is entirely my fault as my video editing machine packed up this week. It’ll be in 3D next year, promise!
And thanks to you all for voting. If you have any suggestions on awards for next season or players who you feel missed out, please let us know in the comments below.