Club stars set to be rewarded
Former Ulster star Bryn Cunningham has paid tribute to the players who battle it out on a weekly basis in club matches up and down the country.
Some of those players are set to be recognised in the Ulster Bank League Awards, which were launched yesterday at Ravenhill.
The 2013/2014 season marks the second year of the awards, which reward the dedication and commitment shown by players, coaches and teams across all Ulster Bank League divisions.
Ireland and Ulster rugby stars Iain Henderson and Chris Henry, as well as inaugural Ulster Bank Player of the Year winner, Ballynahinch captain Stuart Morrow, gathered at Ravenhill alongside Ulster Bank rugby ambassadors Cunningham and Alan Quinlan to launch the new-look awards.
"The Ulster Bank League Awards are about shining a spotlight on the great talent that stems from rugby clubs in every corner of the country," said Cunningham, capped over 150 times by Ulster.
"They are also about rewarding the commitment shown by teams, coaches and volunteers on a weekly basis. It is so important to highlight that you don't need to travel to a provincial fixture to see a great game of rugby.
"Week-in and week-out there are exceptional players taking part in nail-biting clashes all over the country. The role of rugby clubs for the development of players is essential and I am delighted to be associated with awards that enhance the development of Irish rugby."
A panel of judges led by Quinlan and Cunningham will select a shortlist for all categories, with the winners announced at a glittering bash in April.
This year's categories are: 1. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1A; 2. Ulster Bank Top Try Scorer – Division 1A; 3. Ulster Bank Top Points Scorer – Division 1A ; 4. Ulster Bank Rising Star Award – Division 1A (Shortlist compiled from player chosen monthly); 5. Ulster Bank Coach of the Year – Division 1A; 6. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1B; 7. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2A; 8. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2B; 9. Ulster Bank Team of the Year – Across all UBL Divisions; 10. Ulster Bank Club Volunteer of the Year – Across all UBL Divisions; 11. Ulster Bank RugbyForce Winners – Winning clubs announced at awards ceremony.