ULSTER captain Iain Henderson has claimed the Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year in the virtual Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards, which were announced online on Monday (June 7).
The 29-year-old lock has had an exceptional season in both the white and green jerseys. He captained Ireland for the first time versus France in the Guinness Six Nations earlier this year and his stellar performances for both Ulster and Ireland earned him a call-up to the 2021 British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa.
Ulster second row Alan O’Connor scooped the Bank of Ireland Player of the Year Award. His performances have drawn praise throughout the season from players and coaches alike for his leadership and consistent performances. The 28-year-old has notched up over 1,500 minutes of game time across 23 games this season, which included making well over 200 tackles.
Scrum-half John Cooney once again had an outstanding season, starting in 19 of Ulster’s games, scoring seven tries and kicking 137 points off the tee. This earned him the URSC Player of the Year accolade.
The Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year, Nick Timoney, has really come into his own this season, bringing a physical edge to his game and adding to his remarkable pace. The 25-year-old back-rower has been particularly dangerous over the ball, making 14 turnovers in the Guinness PRO14 and Rainbow Cup.
At only 22, Openreach Young Player of the Year James Hume has already racked up 41 appearances for the province and has started 19 out of the 20 games he has featured in this season. The outside centre has been nominated for his consistency in both attack and defence during his 1,509 minutes of rugby in 2020-21.
IRFU Ulster Branch President, Gary Leslie, commented: “I would like to offer my congratulations to all of this season’s nominees and winners. I’m delighted that we have been able to recognise some of the stand-out performers in the professional game in the province. Well done also to the four Ulster players - Billy Burns, Eric O’Sullivan, Brittany Hogan and Neve Jones - who made their Ireland senior debuts this season.
“Now, with the lifting of government restrictions, we are able to make a measured return to domestic rugby after a challenging year of no activity, and it is my hope that we will be able to celebrate the best of both the domestic and professional game when awards season comes around next year.”
Heineken Ulster Rugby Award Winners 2020-21
URSC Player of the Year: John Cooney
Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year: Nick Timoney
Openreach Young Player of the Year: James Hume
Bank of Ireland Player of the Year: Alan O'Connor
Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year: Iain Henderson