Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss lined out today in Clontarf Rugby Club as Ulster Bank, Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU, announced that the Ulster Bank League Awards are returning for a third successive year.
Previous award winner Mick McGrath was also on hand to launch the awards which recognise and celebrate the dedication and commitment shown by players, coaches and teams, across all Ulster Bank League divisions.
Introduced in the 2012/2013 season, the awards have become an established event in the rugby calendar with a selection of winners from the past two years even making the transfer to professional rugby.
Leinster winger McGrath has most recently made that jump and was the top try scorer in Division 1A last season and a ket member of Clontarf’s league title-winning team.
The 2014/15 Ulster Bank League Awards will have even more categories and the ceremony will be taking place in May next year.
The expert judging panel, chaired by Ulster Bank rugby ambassador Alan Quinlan, will select a shortlist for all relevant categories. The judging panel also includes rugby journalists Adam Redmond, Donn O’Sullivan and Richard Mulligan.
This year’s categories are:
1. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1A
2. Ulster Bank Top Try Scorer – Division 1A
3. Ulster Bank Top Points Scorer – Division 1A
4. Ulster Bank Rising Star Award – Division 1A (Shortlist compiled from player chosen monthly)
5. Ulster Bank Coach of the Year – Division 1A
6. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1B
7. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2A
8. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2B
9. Ulster Bank PRO of the Year
10. Ulster Bank Provincial Player of the Year – Across all Ulster Bank League divisions and decided by public vote
11. Ulster Bank Team of the Year – Across all Ulster Bank League divisions
12. Ulster Bank RugbyForce Winners – Winning clubs announced at national awards ceremony
Speaking at today’s launch, former Shannon star Alan Quinlan said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be involved in the third year of the Ulster Bank League Awards. The awards are a fantastic way of recognising the hard work that takes place all throughout Ireland during the club rugby season.
“There’s a huge commitment and dedication put in from all involved, from the players training day in, day out and lining out for their club, to those volunteers behind the scenes, such as the PRO, that the club wouldn’t function without.
“Rugby clubs remain an important role in the development of players and it is fantastic to see the recent success of former club players including Craig Ronaldson, Mick McGrath and Charlie Butterworth.”
This season also marks the fifth year of Ulster Bank RugbyForce – an initiative which provides rugby clubs with the opportunity to win support packages to renovate their club and upgrade their facilities.
To date, the initiative has provided over €130,000 in funding to over 170 rugby clubs, across the island of Ireland. This year one lucky club will be chosen to receive a €10,000 funding package and a training session with an IRFU coach and two Irish rugby stars.
Four additional clubs (one from each province) will also each receive a €5,000 funding package. All entries to the initiative will receive merchandise for their club to the value of €100.
For further information on the Ulster Bank League Awards and to find out more about Ulster Bank RugbyForce, please visit www.facebook.com/ulsterbankrugby. Registrations for Ulster Bank RugbyForce will open shortly and close at midnight on Friday, April 24, 2015. Terms and conditions apply.