Ruan Pienaar leads charge for top prizes
One of the most prestigious nights in the province’s sporting calendar, the Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards Dinner, will be staged on Tuesday at the Culloden Hotel.
A total of 11 awards will be presented at the gala occasion on which fledglings join established international stars at the annual ‘who’s who’ of rugby.
Last year it was Ulster and Ireland back row forward Chris Henry who walked off with the top award, the Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year.
He also won the Ulster Rugby Supporters’ Club Player of the Season and Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year titles and this time World Cup-winning Springbok Ruan Pienaar has been nominated in both those categories.
But the South African star is not the only contender for a brace of titles — home-grown starlet Craig Gilroy is nominated for the Vodafone Young Ulster Player of the Year and Phoenix Gas Academy Player of the Year accolades.
The full list of nominees is:
Calor Gas Youth Player of the Year: Conall Doherty (City of Derry), Jay Malcolm (Malone), Lee Steenson (Dromore)
Northern Bank Schools Player of the Year: John Creighton (Campbell College), Chris Farrell (Campbell College), Peter Nelson (Royal School Dungannon)
Phoenix Gas Academy Player of the Year: Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Patrick Jackson
Kukri Club of the Year: Ballynahinch, Banbridge, City of Armagh
Ken Goodall Award for the Outstanding Club Player of the Year: Peter Henderson (City of Derry), Paul Pritchard (Ballymena), James Simpson (Ballynahinch)
Belfast Telegraph Most Improved Ulster Player of the Year: Adam D’Arcy, Paul Marshall, Paddy McAllister
Perennials Dorrington B. Faulkner Unsung Hero Award: Ronnie Clements (Limavady RFC), Willie Latimer (Ulster Branch Youth Committee), Billy Savage (Dromore RFC)
Ulster Rugby Supporters’ Club Player of the Season (as voted by URSC members): Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar, Nevin Spence
Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year: Rory Best, Chris Henry, Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar
Vodafone Young Ulster Player of the Year: Craig Gilroy, Paddy McAllister, Nevin Spence
Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year: to be announced on the night.