Toulon forward Steffon Armitage has been named ERC European Rugby Player for 2014, just two days after winning the Heineken Cup and being named Man of the Match in the final at the Millennium Stadium.
Armitage was the number one ranked player in the tournament when it comes to turnovers won, with a total of 19, while also featuring in the top 10 in carries, tackles and defenders beaten. He was awarded with a specially struck gold medal in recognition of the prestigious accolade by ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath.
“This is a great honour, and with us winning another Heineken Cup as well, everything has come together at the right time,” Armitage said.
“There are a lot of big names at Toulon, but we’re like one big family and without my teammates, this individual award wouldn’t have been possible. Also, to follow in the footsteps of Jonny Wilkinson as a winner is really special.”
Armitage is now included in a list of illustrious players who have won the highest individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby.
Wilkinson, who captained Toulon to success at the Millennium Stadium, was last year’s winner and previously, the award went to Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby 2012), Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby 2011) and to Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby) who was the inaugural recipient in 2010 as the best player over the first 15 years of ERC’s two tournaments.
The task of deciding on the leading player of the European season from the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup was undertaken by an expert panel which comprised: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Mick Cleary (Daily Telegraph Rugby Correspondent), Marc Duzan (Midi Olympique), Emile Ntamack (three-time Heineken Cup winner) and Gerry Thornley (Irish Times Rugby Correspondent)
The panel was presented with a longlist of 15 players at the conclusion of the pools stages of both competitions, and then following the quarter-finals and semi-finals which introduced new contenders into the mix, that list was reduced to the following five players:
Steffon Armitage (Back row, RC Toulon)
Chris Ashton (Wing, Saracens)
Schalk Brits (Hooker, Saracens)
Jacques Burger (Back row, Saracens)
Jonny Wilkinson (Out half, RC Toulon)
Congratulations to each one of those players, who were all outstanding this year and would have been more than worthy winners should they have edged Armitage.
You can view a short video of a very humble Armitage receiving the award