Premiership Rugby can today confirm that Wasps’ wing Tom Howe has won the Anglo-Welsh Cup Breakthrough Player Award.
Howe won a public vote from a ten-strong shortlist of young stars with Northampton Saints’ Harry Mallinder as runner-up, and Jack Willis also of Wasps coming third.
This year the competition is being supported by Citizen Watch UK who will provide Howe with the latest Citizen Skyhawk A-T watch and Gilbert who will supply £1,000 worth of kit to a grassroots club of his choice.
Howe won his place on the shortlist with a superb performance – tracked by the boffins at OPTA – in round two when the 21-year-old found himself in the thick of the action as he scored a try and set up another. He was in great form with the ball in hand; from just eight carries he made three clean breaks and beat two defenders, gaining 98 metres in the process.
The 21-year-old also impressed at the 2016 Singha Premiership Rugby 7s where he scored in the final as Wasps won the tournament.
Born in Milton Keynes, Howe cut his teeth at Beaconsfield RFC and has enjoyed loan spells at Championship side Jersey Reds and also with Coventry Rugby in National League One this season, signing for Worcester Warriors for the 2017-18 campaign.
The competition is open to the best Under-23 players in the Anglo-Welsh Cup with shortlisted players being named after each round and Howe joins an elite group to win the award. Launched in 2012, the Breakthrough Player Award celebrates and recognises those young players who have stood out in the tournament with previous winners including Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Tom Collins and Ollie Devoto.
Using Opta match statistics, a forward and back from each round, along with two players with outstanding overall competition statistics formed the shortlist, which was submitted to a fan vote on www.new-heroes.com
The full shortlist was:
Zach Mercer – Bath Rugby
Josh Adams – Worcester Warriors
Sam Simmonds – Exeter Chiefs
Tom Howe – Wasps
James Chisholm – Harlequins
Stu Townsend – Exeter Chiefs
Harry Mallinder – Northampton Saints
Cameron Orr – Gloucester Rugby
Jack Willis – Wasps
Tom Whiteley – Saracens