Maro Itoje emerged as a triple winner in Lyon after he picked up a Champions Cup winners’ medal, the Heineken Man of the Match award and was then named as the EPCR European Player of the Year 2016.
The England and Saracens lock became the sixth winner of the prestigious annual Player of the Year title, presented in conjunction with EPCR Official Partners Turkish Airlines, and was rewarded with one million air miles courtesy of Turkish Airlines.
The 21-year-old was a monumental figure in Saracens’ 21-9 triumph over Racing 92 at Grand Stade de Lyon and follows in the footsteps of three other English internationals who have picked up the award in recent years, Jonny Wilkinson, Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon.
Racing 92 assistant coach Ronan O’Gara was named as the greatest player in the first 15 seasons of European Club Rugby in 2010, but since then there has been an annual award for the best player of each season. The first winner was Leinster and Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien in 2011.
Selected by a distinguished panel of rugby experts, the list for one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game included 15 players who had performed outstandingly during the 2015/16 season.
The 2014 winner, Steffon Armitage of Toulon, was once again a nominee, while Itoje was one of six players who featured in the Champions Cup final who made the list. Racing 92’s Dan Carter and Juan Imhoff joined him, as did clubmates Owen Farrell, George Kruis and Billy Vunipola.
The EPCR European Player of the Year 2016 was announced after the presentation of the Champions Cup trophy in Lyon on Saturday. EPCR Chairman, Simon Halliday, and Ogün Sanlier, Turkish Airlines Board Member,presented Itoje with the EPCR European Player of the Year 2016 award.
EPCR European Player of the Year 2016 list presented by Turkish Airlines
Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
Dan Carter (Racing 92)
Jack Clifford (Harlequins)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
Guilhem Guirado (Toulon)
Juan Imhoff (Racing 92)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
George Kruis (Saracens)
George North (Northampton Saints)
Charles Piutau (Wasps)
George Smith (Wasps)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
EPCR European Player of the Year Award Winners
1995-2010 Ronan O’Gara – Munster
2011 Sean O’Brien – Leinster
2012 Rob Kearney – Leinster
2013 Jonny Wilkinson – Toulon
2014 Steffon Armitage – Toulon
2015 Nick Abendanon – Clermont Auvergne
2016 Maro Itoje – Saracens
Judging Panel: Emmanuel Massicard (Editor, Midi Olympique), Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports/The Sunday Times), Mick Cleary (Rugby Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph), Matthieu Lartot (France Televisions), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports)