George Ford has been named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Year after a stunning season with both club and country.
Ford, still only 22, has led Bath Rugby back to the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals for the first time since 2010 in a campaign that has seen him installed as England’s starting fly-half.
But Oldham-born Ford was seemingly always destined for big things after making his Aviva Premiership Rugby debut with Leicester Tigers as a 17-year-old.
In his first season at Bath last year he finished as the league’s top scorer, despite the West Country club missing the semi-finals by a hair’s breadth.
His influence has been even greater this season – with Bath just losing three of the 14 Aviva Premiership Rugby games he has participated in.
And there was family glory on the night, with father Mike taking home the Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season award.
“I’ve loved every minute again this year, I’m loving playing regularly at a club like Bath, the environment they’ve set for us is an enjoyable one,” said Ford, speaking at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards hosted by the London Hilton on Park Lane.
“They challenge us every day and you go to the club and get better each day so as a young lad it’s a great place to be.
“My dad is obviously my coach so we don’t get much time as father and son but he’s a brilliant coach, along with the rest of the team at Bath.”
Ford managed to fend off a shortlist that contained three of England’s brightest young stars, Jonathan Joseph, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly, who were all named alongside him in Stuart Lancaster’s 50-man training squad earlier today. Wasps No.8 Nathan Hughes was also given the nod after a fine year.
As for Ford, his next challenge will be a semi-final in front of the Rec against the Tigers on Saturday evening.
If the stars align Ford’s way, he could be hoisting both the Aviva Premiership Rugby title and the World Cup later this year, though he admits it will take nothing but hard work.
“Obviously Leicester are a great team and they’ve got to the play-offs 11 seasons in a row with some world-class players and coaches,” Ford added.
“It’s going to be a really tough game for us so we’ll just try to prepare the best we can this week to give ourselves the best shot of victory.
“I’m just looking forward to hopefully get a win this week but when England comes around it will be exciting.
“A World Cup on home soil doesn’t come around very often so all the lads are excited and we’ve got a few hard weeks ahead of us.
“But when it does come around it will be very special.”
2014-15 AWARD WINNERS
Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Year – George Ford
Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season – Mike Ford
Land Rover Discovery of the Season – Henry Slade
Green Flag Forward of the Season – Nathan Hughes
Citizen Try of the Season – Joe Simpson
Gilbert Golden Boot Winner – Andy Goode
Trivento Top Try-Scorer – Thomas Waldrom
Aviva Community Player of the Season – Jamie George
BT Sport Dream Team
Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby
Christian Wade – Wasps
Jonathan Joseph – Bath Rugby
Henry Slade – Exeter Chiefs
Sinoti Sinoti – Newcastle Falcons
George Ford – Bath Rugby
Joe Simpson – Wasps
Matt Mullan – Wasps
Jamie George – Saracens
Tomas Francis – Exeter Chiefs
Graham Kitchener – Leicester Tigers
Dean Mumm – Exeter Chiefs – Captain
Dave Ewers – Exeter Chiefs
Francois Louw – Bath Rugby
Nathan Hughes – Wasps
PLAYER OF THE YEAR PAST WINNERS
2013-14: Mike Brown (Harlequins)
2012-13: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers),
2011-12: Chris Robshaw (Harlequins),
2010-11: Tom Wood (Northampton Saints),
2009-10: Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints),
2008-9: Chris Robshaw (Harlequins),
2007-8: James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby).
2006-7: Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers).
2005-6: Mike Catt (London Irish)
2004-5: Martin Corry (Leicester Tigers).
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