23 May 2024

~6 minutes read

Bundee Aki named as Ireland Men’s Players’ Player of the Year

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Bundee Aki named as Ireland Men’s Players’ Player of the Year
Connacht and Ireland’s Bundee Aki was last night named as the BDO Ireland Men’s XVs Players’ Players of the Year 2024 by his fellow players at the Rugby Players Ireland Awards. Nominated for both World Rugby Player of the Year and Six Nations Player of the Championship, Aki was always going be a strong contender for the award despite the presence of Jamison Gibson-Park and Dan Sheehan in the shortlist. A fan favourite, Aki hit new heights this season in the Irish midfield, helping Ireland to their second Six Nations title in as many years.
On receiving his award Bundee Aki commented: “I’m honoured to be recognised by my fellow Rugby Players Ireland members as their Player of the Year. It has been bittersweet but when I look back on the season, I won’t think about the results or awards. Instead, I’ll look back with pride at being part of such a resilient group, and the way we bounced back after the disappointment of the Rugby World Cup. Individual awards are fantastic, but this one would not have been possible without Jamison, Dan or any of my Irish or Connacht teammates for pushing me along.”
Meanwhile, Aoife Wafer was on the double as she claimed both the Strata Financial Women’s XVs Players’ Player of the Year and Energia Women’s XVs Young Player of the Year. Having returned to international action following a lengthy injury lay-off, the Wexford woman was keen to make up for lost time in an Irish jersey. Despite being just 21 years of age, Wafer emerged as a real leader within the group as they secured Rugby World Cup qualification. Her outstanding performances in the Irish backrow also saw her nominated for the Six Nations Player of the Championship.
Speaking as she claimed the Players’ Player award, Wafer said: “The past few months have been the highlight of my career to date. I find it hard to believe given where I was not very long ago. While I was happy with the way I played on a personal level, I really fed off the energy of the wider squad. We are an extremely close group. We back each other on the good days, and especially on the bad. I feel we have turned a big page in our journey this year and I look forward to seeing where we can go together as a team.”
Many of the biggest names in Irish rugby were present at the Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road for what was a celebration of a successful season on many fronts, on and off the field. Following his retirement, Keith Earls was named as the Zurich Contribution to Irish Society Award winner, while Conor Murray presented former Rugby Players Ireland Chairperson Johnny Sexton with a portrait piece on behalf of the players’ association’s membership.
There were there strong contenders in the mix for the Mercedes-Benz Ballsbridge Men’s XV’s Try of the Year, yet it was Craig Casey’s effort against Leinster Rugby at the Aviva Stadium which prevailed to claim this year’s acknowledgement. However, Leinster Rugby claimed one back over their provincial rivals with Joe McCarthy named as the Nevin Spence Men’s XVs Young Player of the Year ahead of Tom Ahern and last year’s winner, Jack Crowley.
Further accolades were presented to Zac Ward who was named as the TritonLake Men’s 7s Players’ Player of the Year 2024 with Megan Burns the TritonLake Women’s 7s Players’ Player of the YearKatie Corrigan scooped the AIB Corporate Banking Women’s XV’s Try of the Year, with Ireland’s Six Nations winning campaign voted as the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Moment of the Year.
Peter O’Mahony, Rugby Players Ireland Chairperson: said: “As always, it’s a huge honour to come together and look back on what has been another successful campaign for Irish Rugby. While many thought it would be one of transition, I have found that even as players have moved on, we always seem to have somebody ready to step up thanks to the empowering support of the likes of Rugby Players Ireland who continue to equip our players with the skills to thrive both on and off the field.”
 
Simon Keogh, CEO of Rugby Players Ireland added: “A Rugby Players Ireland Award represents the highest individual accolade in the game. To be recognised by your teammates and opponents in this way is the ultimate show of respect. My congratulations to Bundee, Aoife, Zac, Megan and all of our winners tonight. Our game is in a good place.”
2024 Nominees
BDO IRELAND MEN’S XVs PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2024
Bundee Aki Connacht Rugby
Jamison Gibson-Park Leinster Rugby
Dan Sheehan Leinster Rugby
STRATA FINANCIAL WOMEN’S XVs PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2024
Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere/Ulster Rugby)
Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College/Connacht Rugby)
Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College/Leinster Rugby)
NEVIN SPENCE MEN’S XVs YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2024
Tom Ahern (Munster Rugby)
Jack Crowley (Munster Rugby)
Joe McCarthy (Leinster Rugby)
ENERGIA WOMEN’s XVs YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2024
Katie Corrigan (Old Belvedere/Leinster Rugby)
Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster Rugby)
Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College/Leinster Rugby)
MERCEDES-BENZ BALLSBRIDGE MEN’S XVs TRY OF THE YEAR 2024
Craig Casey v Leinster Rugby
James Lowe v Scotland
Calvin Nash v France
AIB CORPORATE BANKING WOMEN’S XVs TRY OF THE YEAR 2024
Katie Corrigan v Italy
Katie Corrigan v Wales
Aoife Wafer v Wales
 
 
TRITONLAKE MEN’S 7s PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2024
Terry Kennedy
Harry McNulty
Zac Ward
 
TRITONLAKE WOMEN’S 7s PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2024
Megan Burns
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
Béibhinn Parsons
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY AWARD 2024
Keith Earls
 
DRUIDS GLEN HOTEL & GOLF RESORT MOMENT ON THE YEAR 2024
Ireland’s 2024 Six Nations Campaign
About Rugby Players Ireland
Rugby Players Ireland, as the representative body for Ireland’s professional rugby players, consistently strives to make Ireland the best place in the world to play rugby. Rugby Players Ireland is working towards achieving this vision by ensuring that player welfare is always prioritized and that there are fair and equitable terms and conditions for players. The association also adopts a whole of life approach to player development and ensures that the profile enjoyed by Ireland’s rugby players contributes to the future development not just of Irish rugby but Irish society as a whole.
 

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