A PLAYER described as Aviva Premiership Rugby’s "best mid-season signing" has today been named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for March.
Scrum-half Francois Hougaard was instrumental in Worcester Warriors’ becoming the only side in Aviva Premiership Rugby to win all four matches in the month of March, setting a new club Premiership Rugby record.
“I don’t think there has been a better mid-season signing than Francois,” said BT Sport’s Austin Healey, “and, while he would be the first to acknowledge his team mates, he was a vital ingredient to those victories as Worcester Warriors secured their place in Aviva Premiership Rugby next season.
“There is always a risk associated with signing a player halfway through a season, but this was a superb piece of business by Dean Ryan.”
Hougaard made an incredible start to the month producing a man of the match performance in the 15-14 victory at Newcastle Falcons, Warriors’ first away success in Aviva Premiership Rugby for two years.
“Francois has had a huge influence on the side in a short space of time,” said Ryan after Hougaard recently signed a new permanent contract at the club.
Hougaard was involved in a three-way battle for this month’s title, eventually beating Saracens’ full-back Alex Goode and Northampton Saints’ back row Teimana Harrison to the title.
Rugby fans also had their say on who deserved to win the coveted Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month Award as they became the 10th Judge. Joining the panel of nine judges, fans voted for the player who had impressed them the most during the month of March.
One lucky fan who votes as a 10th Judge will be selected at random to win tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May.
As well as the fans' vote, Hougaard was voted for by a panel of media professionals – Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Steve James (The Sunday Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jill Douglas (ITV Sport), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Ben Coles (Planet Rugby). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.
Hougaard wins a trophy and a £250 donation to the charity of his choice.
Winners in the 2015-16 season
October – Nick Evans (Harlequins)
November – Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
December – Maro Itoje (Saracens)
January – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
February – George Smith (Wasps)
March – Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
Winners in the 2014-15 season
September – Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
October – Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
November – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
January – Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
February – Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
March – Elliot Daly (Wasps)
April – Joe Simpson (Wasps)
Winners in the 2013-14 season
September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
April – Chris Ashton (Saracens)