England international Steffon Armitage of Heineken Cup champions Toulon has been named European Player of the Year 2014.
England international Steffon Armitage of Heineken Cup champions Toulon has been named ERC European Player of the Year 2014.
Armitage, also the winner of the Heineken Man of the Match award in last weekend's final, has had a magnificent season for the French club who retained their European title in superb style at the Millennium Stadium.
The dynamic 28-year-old back row was a key figure in Toulon's second Heineken Cup triumph in a row and not surprisingly was the number one ranked player in the tournament statistics for turnovers won with a total of 19 while also featuring in the top 10 in the carries, tackles and defenders beaten categories.
He was presented with a specially struck gold medal in recognition of the prestigious accolade by ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath.
“This is a great honour, and with us winning another Heineken Cup as well, everything has come together at the right time,” said Armitage.
“There are a lot of big names at Toulon, but we're like one big family and without my teammates, this individual award wouldn't have been possible. Also, to follow in the footsteps of Jonny Wilkinson as a winner is really special.”
Armitage is now included in a list of illustrious players who have won the highest individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby.
Wilkinson, who captained Toulon to success at the Millennium Stadium, was last year's winner and previously, the award went to Rob Kearney (Leinster, 2012), Sean O'Brien (Leinster, 2011) and to Ronan O'Gara (Munster) who was the inaugural recipient in 2010 as the best player over the first 15 years of ERC's two tournaments.
The task of deciding on the leading player of the European season from the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup was undertaken by an expert panel which comprised: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Mick Cleary (Daily Telegraph Rugby Correspondent), Marc Duzan (Midi Olympique), Emile Ntamack (three-time Heineken Cup winner) and Gerry Thornley (Irish Times Rugby Correspondent)
The panel was presented with a longlist of 15 players at the conclusion of the pools stages of both competitions, and then following the quarter-finals and semi-finals which introduced new contenders into the mix, that list was reduced to the following five players:
Steffon Armitage (Back row, Toulon)
Chris Ashton (Wing, Saracens)
Schalk Brits (Hooker, Saracens)
Jacques Burger (Back row, Saracens), Jonny Wilkinson (Fly-half, RC Toulon)