Simmonds named European Player of the Year
By Mark Stevens
Sam Simmonds has capped an extraordinary Heineken Champions Cup campaign by being named EPCR European Player of the Year.
The No.8 propelled Exeter Chiefs to a maiden European title at Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium with victory over Racing 92 and he finished as the tournament’s leading try scorer with eight, including a valuable first half try in the final. His overall contribution earned him the plaudits of a panel of distinguished rugby experts which was combined with more than 20,000 votes from the public to determine the winner.
Simmonds emerged successful from a final selection of five players, with Racing 92’s Finn Russell also popular with the fans and Virimi Vakatawa receiving acclaim from the panel. Exeter’s Stuart Hogg and Semi Radradra, who helped Bristol Bears to glory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup on Friday night, had also been shortlisted.
Simmonds is the fourth English player in five years to receive the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy as Europe’s finest player of the season after Maro Itoje (2016), Owen Farrell (2017) and Alex Goode (2019).
Judging Panel: Erik Bonneval (beINSPORTS), Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Sonja McLaughlan(BBC Radio 5 Live), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media), Dimitri Yachvili (FranceTélévisions).
Roll of Honour
2020: Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
2019: Alex Goode (Saracens)
2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)
2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2016: Maro Itoje(Saracens)
2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon)
2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon)
2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby)
2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby)
2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby)