Outcast Cipriani beats SA duo to top English award

Danny Cipriani (File)
Danny Cipriani (File)

London - England exile Danny Cipriani was named the Rugby Players' Association player of the year for 2019 on Wednesday following an excellent debut season at Gloucester.

The 31-year-old flyhalf topped a poll of his fellow professionals at English clubs, coming out at the head of a shortlist that included Exeter wing Santiago Cordero, Sale scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, Northampton scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and Exeter centre Henry Slade.

In the process Cipriani became only the third person after Jonny Wilkinson and Christian Wade, to win both this honour and the equivalent young player award.

Cipriani's award came nine months after he was fined for assault and resisting arrest at a Jersey nightclub during a pre-season tour.

Yet for all his sparkling play this term with the Cherry and Whites, the undeniably talented Cipriani has won just 16 England caps since making his debut back in 2008.

Several England coaches have lacked faith in Cipriani, with current Red Rose boss Eddie Jones preferring Owen Farrell and George Ford at flyhalf.

But it is still possible the Australian could yet include Cipriani in his England squad for this year's World Cup in Japan, which starts in September.

"It's very humbling to be named the winner of such a prestigious and special award," said Cipriani, who joined Gloucester after a second spell at Wasps - the club where he made his name.

"Rugby is the ultimate team sport and every day we work exceptionally hard together as a club to improve every aspect of our performance," he added after steering Gloucester into their first Premiership playoff appearance since 2011.

"I would like to thank my fellow professionals for the wonderful recognition and to everyone who has continued to support me along this journey."

Gloucester enjoyed further success at the Twickenham ceremony when 22-year-old wing Ollie Thorley won the young player of the year award.

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