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Steward scores double at the RPA Awards

Freddie Steward picked up two honours at the Rugby Players’ Association Awards in London on Wednesday evening.

Leicester Tigers full-back Steward received the awards as the Young Player of the Year and England Men’s Player of the Year at the Eterlast RPA Awards held at Evolution London on Wednesday evening.

The 21-year-old Steward reached 50 first-team appearances for Tigers in the European win over Clermont Auvergne in April and topped the MPH Sports Young Player of the Year poll ahead of fellow nominees Marcus Smith, Bevan Rodd and Henry Arundell.

Steward said: “Thank you to everyone who voted. It is a big honour to win an award voted on by your peers and I feel humbled to win given the talent in the game.

“I would like to acknowledge my team-mates at Leicester Tigers, who I wouldn’t be able to have done what I have without."

After gaining his first senior cap last summer, Steward was also voted England Men’s Player of the Year in association with esya by members of the Elite Players Squad and beat clubmate Ellis Genge and fly-half Marcus Smith for the award.

He said: “I was surprised to have even been nominated for the award so to win it was an incredible feeling. It tops of a year full of incredible experiences in an England shirt that will stay with me and my family forever.

“I’ve been fortunate to be part of a team with some unbelievable players and individuals that have helped me learn so much.”

Chris Ashton picked up the Champagne Bollinger RPA Moment of the Season award after becoming the Premiership Rugby’s all-time record tryscorer.

“It’s an honour to receive this award from the RPA,” Ashton said. “I have played in some great teams with amazing players and coaches that have all played a part and helped me throughout my career and I can’t thank them enough. Since I was five years old, all I’ve wanted to do is score tries for my team and that feeling is as strong today as it was when I first picked up a ball.”

Tigers defence coach Kevin Sinfield was a winner, alongside Andrew Fenby, of the RPA Blyth Spirit Award in association with hasta.

Sinfield said: “I’m very humbled to win this award, so thank you very much to the RPA for doing this, and it shows both rugby codes are uniting to fundraise and raise awareness of MND.”

George Ford and Ellis Genge were among the nominations for the Eterlast Players' Player of the Year won by Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen.

Other winners on the night included Danny Care who received the RPA Special Merit Award in association with Walter Cooper; Billy Keast of Exeter Chiefs as Vodafone Business Gain Line Award winner; Marlie Packer as the Obex Dental England Women's Player of the Year; Sadia Kabeya, who received the Allianz Premier 15’s Award sponsored by Allianz; and RPA Hall of Fame in association with Aperol inductee Katy Daley-McLean MBE.