Sam Simmonds and Poppy Cleall named Rugby Players Association Player of the Year | Rugby Union News

Poppy Cleall won the Six Nations with England earlier this year and was named Player of the Championship; Sam Simmonds closed an impressive season with a call-up for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa; Harlequins opener Marcus Smith named young player of the year

Last update: 06/09/21 8:00 p.m.

Sam Simmonds ‘stellar season continued after Exeter No 8 was crowned Male Player of the Year by the Rugby Players’ Association, while all-round England striker Poppy Cleall was named Women’s Player of the year.

Simmonds has had an exceptional campaign, setting a new scoring try record in a Gallagher Premiership season after crossing 20 times and securing a place in the British and Irish Lions squad to South Africa .

The 26-year-old Lions’ selection comes despite being overlooked by England since winning the last of their seven caps in 2018.

Cleall was named a women’s player in the Six Nations Championship this year, helping her side secure a 10-6 victory over France in the final where they scored the only try of the match.

She was also part of the Saracens squad that qualified for the Premier 15s final last month, beaten by future champions Harlequins at Kingsholm.

Simmonds follows in the footsteps of Wasps flanker Jack Willis by winning the men’s award, which is voted on by Premiership players.

“This particular award means a lot. The way it’s chosen and the way you are nominated comes from the players you play against each week and throughout the season,” said the two-time 2019-2020 winner.

“So for them to recognize and notice that I’ve had a strong season is fantastic and I appreciate it.

“Once the season is over – hopefully after a few more wins – I can look back both individually and as a member of the team and feel good about what we’ve accomplished.”

Marcus Smith, 22, was named young player of the year after his stunning form helped the Harlequins claim a place in the play-offs.

“It’s always nice to be honored for individual accolades, but a lot of the credit goes to my teammates at Harlequins,” said Smith.

“They made me look good this year and without the forwards I couldn’t have done my job.”

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