Prolific Ashton gets top player gong
May 18, 2010
It was a surprise Chris Ashton didn't dive over to score with his trophy © Getty Images
Northampton and England wing Chris Ashton's try-scoring feats have earned him the Guinness Premiership Player of the Season award ahead of team-mate Soane Tonga'uiha and Saracens captain Ernst Joubert.
Ashton was presented with the trophy at a glitzy dinner in London on Tuesday night in recognition of the former rugby league man's 16 tries in 20 games this season - the best return for over a decade and second only to Dominic Chapman, who scored 17 for Richmond in the 1997/98 season.
Ashton has enjoyed a meteoric rise since switching codes from rugby league in 2007 and has been included in England's squad for the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand. The 23-year-old's prolific scoring form, which included hat-tricks against Gloucester and Newcastle, saw him win his first England cap as a result.
Ashton dedicated the award to his father, Kevin, who lost his battle against cancer in the closing weeks of the Premiership season. "My Dad passed away about two weeks ago. It was his funeral yesterday and he helped me get to where I am in rugby and I would just like to say thank you. It has been a big year for me. It took me a while to get the hang of this game, coming over from rugby league, and I think I am finally getting the hang of it."
Powerful Tongan prop Tonga'uiha managed to cross four times this season - three times as he played all 23 league matches for the Saints and once in the successful Anglo-Welsh Cup Final, but his runner-up placing represented his consistent work up front. Joubert has also participated in every match as he guided his side to the Premiership final.
Leicester Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs was named as the Land Rover Discovery of the Season after finishing third in the same category last year. Saracens' Andy Saull was runner-up and London Wasps' Joe Simpson came in third.
Leeds Carnegie's Andy Key edged out Northampton Saints' Jim Mallinder for QBE Director of Rugby of the Season for his work in helping Leeds, who were rock bottom at Christmas, avoid relegation.
Guinness Premiership Awards 2009/10:
Player of the Season - Winner: Chris Ashton, Northampton; Second: Soane Tonga'uiha, Northampton; Third: Ernst Joubert, Saracens
Land Rover Discovery of the Season - Ben Youngs, Leicester
QBE Director of Rugby of the Season - Andy Key, Leeds Carnegie
Try of the Season - Nick Abendanon, Bath v Leeds, 8th May 2010
MBNA Community Player of the Season - Olly Barkley
Gatorade Performance of the Season - Jordan Crane, Leicester
Top Try Scorer - Chris Ashton, Northampton Saints, 16 tries
Gilbert Golden Boot - Jimmy Gopperth, Newcastle Falcons, 219 points
Sky Sports Dream Team: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Northampton) S Rabeni (Leeds), B Barritt (Saracens), S Hamilton (Leicester); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); S Tonga'uiha (Northampton), S Brits (Saracens), C Hayman (Newcastle), M Wentzel, (Leeds), J Kruger (Northampton), P Dowson (Northampton, captain), H Fourie (Leeds), E Joubert (Saracens)