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EPCR European Player of the Year award 2019 – nominees announced

Who gets your vote?

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Elite players from seven different clubs and all three European professional leagues are among the 15 nominees for the prestigious EPCR European Player of the Year award.

Last season’s winner, Leone Nakarawa, who played a key role in Racing 92’s qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, is nominated once again along with his teammates, Finn Russell and Simon Zebo, while No 1 ranked, Saracens, have two representatives in Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola following their 100% record in another impressive pool stage performance.

Toulouse, who will face Racing 92 in an intriguing all-French quarter-final at the end of March, have Antoine Dupont and the livewire, Cheslin Kolbe, in the list, and not surprisingly, Edinburgh Rugby’s, Viliame Mata, is included on the back of several outstanding displays during the pool stage.

Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose are nominated from Heineken Champions Cup holders, Leinster Rugby, while Ulster Rugby’s try machine, Jacob Stockdale, also gets the vote of the expert panel of judges. Munster Rugby are able to match Leinster’s representation with Tadhg Beirne, Joey Carbery and club captain, Peter O’Mahony, featuring in the star-studded longlist.

The winner of one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game will receive a specially struck gold medal as well as the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy.

Voting for the award is now open at www.epcrugby.com/epoty and fans will be in the running to win two VIP tickets to the Heineken Champions Cup final in Newcastle next May with one night’s accommodation courtesy of EPCR, and a signed jersey of one of the Heineken Champions Cup finalist clubs.

The list will be reduced to five players in April following the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the judges, and players who have not been included in initial list of 15, but who make a significant impact in a quarter-final or semi-final match, can be considered for the shortlist.

The voting will then be reopened and the winner of the 2019 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final at St James’ Park on Saturday, 11 May.

EPCR European Player of the Year award 2019 nominees

Tadhg BEIRNE (Munster Rugby)
Joey CARBERY (Munster Rugby)
Sean CRONIN (Leinster Rugby)
Antoine DUPONT (Toulouse)
Tadhg FURLONG (Leinster Rugby)
Alex GOODE (Saracens)
Cheslin KOLBE (Toulouse)
Viliame MATA (Edinburgh Rugby)
Leone NAKARAWA (Racing 92)
Peter O’MAHONY (Munster Rugby)
Garry RINGROSE (Leinster Rugby)
Finn RUSSELL (Racing 92)
Jacob STOCKDALE (Ulster Rugby)
Mako VUNIPOLA (Saracens)
Simon ZEBO (Racing 92)

Judging Panel: Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Chris Jones (BBC Radio 5 Live), Matthieu Lartot (France Télévisions), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports).

Roll of Honour – 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 – best player of first 15 years of European professional club competitions)

Champions Cup

Toulon boss unloads on Savea AGAIN

He’s said more…

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Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images

We didn’t think the situation surrounding Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal could get any more ridiculous after the comments made by Mourad Boudjellal following his side’s defeat to Agen on the weekend.

If you’ve missed the original comments (were you living under a rock?) were Savea was effectively ‘released’ and suffered a major verbal spray, you need to get up to speed and read them (Click here)

Boudjellal hasn’t stopped there though. After Julian Savea publicly responded to his bosses comments on Twitter, the Toulon owner has unleashed yet another spray directed at Savea to French Newspaper Le Parisien.

“I find his behaviour unacceptable. I went through the quarter-finals of the 2015 France-New Zealand World Cup and I always wonder if it’s the same player, the same man,”

“What I do not admit is that we pay him dearly. The negotiations have been very difficult, he has been very demanding and since he has been here, he is no longer. I can not think it’s normal for a player paid more than 1 million euros per year to go on holiday to Fiji for a month in December…he just had to attend his brother’s wedding, not take long leave,”

Boudjellal says he has spoken to Savea after the initial criticism.

“Oh yes. He is very nice, polite. They are very strong, with his wife, to complain about social networks. When he was in Fiji, he did not look unhappy. He tweeted that he was going to train hard. He will not be disappointed. He has a little more than a year of contract, it will be very long for him. Beyond what he thinks. I will not complain. You think he gave a little of his salary to the young Simon Moretti, who is 18, touches 500 euros a month and defended the club while he returned quietly vacation? No.”

Savea’s teammates and other high profile players have rallied around Savea, but the Toulon owner had a stern rebuke. You can see their responses on this link.

“Well, let them make a kitty to free him from his contract! That way, he can take the money and say shit to his president. It’s easy to post messages, but if they had to give some of their money, they would be fewer. I want it to serve as an example.”

“We do not come to Toulon as a tourist. There is enough in the region. And when you’re paid a lot of money, the least you can do is give yourself.

Savea hasn’t been the only one in the firing line. Rhys Webb also has made the headlines with some interesting comments coming from both parties.

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Toulon boss takes aim at Rhys Webb

“His agents are offering him all over Wales, while he still owes us one more year on his contract.”

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Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Toulon’s president, Mourad Boudjellal is not known for being a shy, reserved , hide in the background style owner. He’s the opposite but this weekend the Toulon boss has gone nuclear!

Yesterday, his comments about Julian Savea made headlines, stating he was releasing the All Black (read the comments here) following the defeat to Agen.

Savea was not the only one in the firing line. Rhys Webb was also in line for a verbal spray.

The Welsh scum-half has been in the news lately after his family failed to settle in France and have returned home . Rumours have been circulating that Rhys Webb would also like to return home. The Toulon boss is most likely aware of these rumours and made the below comments to the French media,

“His agents are offering him all over Wales, while he still owes us one more year on his contract.”Don’t worry, I won’t hold him back.”

His agent Derwyn Jones, speaking on behalf of the Webb, said:

“The last month or so has been really difficult for Rhys with his family moving back to Wales because one of his sons found it hard to settle out there and adjust to being in a French language school.

“However, Rhys wants to make it clear he hasn’t had any conversations with the club at all about leaving Toulon.

“He has a strong family network which will support his fiancée and children back home in Bridgend.

“Toulon have openly said he’s one of the most professional players they have come across.

“Rhys’s immediate goal is to help the club start winning again and make the top six in the French league.

“The club have spoken to me to say they are concerned about how Rhys will cope without his family.

“But Rhys has assured me he’s committed to the club.

“The club have not indicated to me they are unhappy with Rhys, which is a totally separate conversation.

“So Rhys remains committed to the team.”

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Savea and Twitter responds to Toulon Boss comments.

Several pro’s have come out in support of Savea.

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Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

In the strange world we live in, somehow the news that Dan Carter is returning to European Rugby was dwarfed by the comments made by Toulon Boss after his side lost to Agen.

The Toulon boss went on a tirade picking out players for public criticism in an astonishing rant that has to be seen to be believed. You can read all the comments here.

The brunt of the abuse was directed in Julian Savea’s direction.

“I am going to ask for a DNA test,” “Saveaapas not recruited but Savéapas, who had to change him on the plane. I would apologize and I would go home and when you get to that level of play, you have to apologize and leave, maybe it’s just a matter of self-esteem. Is it me who feeds my family or is it the club? “

“I told him he was released, and he was no longer welcome at Toulon! He has got a year left on his contract. He can do what he wants. A year can be long for the club but especially for the player… for me he is released,”

Savea who was talked up as one of the World’s Best Winger over the last few years due to his stunning try scoring ratio with the All Blacks (46 Tries in 54 Tests) has not enjoyed the best of starts to his Toulon career and if the Toulon Boss is serious with his comments, it’s over.

Julian Savea addressed the situation this morning via his Twitter:

Several professional players of past and present have publicly supported Savea via Twitter.

Former Toulon start Drew Mitchell was quick off the mark with his support and included the club and boss in his comments:

Well said my uce just keep on doing what you can control with that positive attitude and you will go along way.— Joe Rokocoko (@J_Rokocoko) February 18, 2019

#onwardsandupwards brother 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽— Bryan Habana (@BryanHabana) February 18, 2019

The man dox ❤️— NGANI LAUMAPE (@NLaumape) February 18, 2019

Shot uce🔥🔥— Bundee Aki (@bundeeaki12) February 18, 2019

I doubt we’ve heard the last of this situation!

Savea wasn’t the only player targeted, you can read the rest of his comments here.

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