Saints boss Dowson claims top prize at Premiership Rugby Awards

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Phil Dowson was named director of rugby of the season at the Premiership Rugby Awards on Wednesday night.

The Saints boss was rewarded for a superb campaign, having helped Saints to finish top of the Premiership regular season table for the first time since 2015, and only the second time in the club’s history.

The black, green and gold won 12 of their 18 matches in the league during 2023/24 season and now march into a home play-off semi-final against Saracens on Friday, May 31.

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Saints’ exploits also saw two of their players shortlisted for the Premiership player of the season prize, but Courtney Lawes and Fin Smith missed out to Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade.

Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Exeter wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso was named breakthrough player of the season.

Saints duo Ethan Waller and Tom James were in the mix for community player of the season, but that accolade was given to Saracens forward Andy Christie.

James was up for a second award as his recent effort against Gloucester was nominated for try of the season, but Harlequins full-back Tyrone Green scooped the prize for his acrobatic score against Newcastle Falcons in November.

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Saints winger Ollie Sleightholme took home the Premiership Rugby top try scorer award with 14 tries in a stellar season.

Slade picked up his second trophy of the night as the Premiership Rugby top points scorer.

Referee Wayne Barnes was given a special recognition award after retiring this season on the back of officiating the Rugby World Cup 2023 final in addition to a record 272 Premiership Rugby matches and 111 Tests.

Simon Massie-Taylor, CEO of Premiership Rugby, said: “The 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season has produced some incredible moments of drama and many of those protagonists went on to receive awards for their part.

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“Henry Slade has had a memorable season from start to finish, after missing out on the Rugby World Cup in France. He led a young, new-look Exeter Chiefs side to within touching distance of the play-offs.

"Henry is a world-class player and this season has also won a number of games with a clutch kick in the last play - so is a worthy winner of the Gallagher player of the season.

“Immanuel Feyi-Waboso’s season is a breakthrough in every sense of the word.

"From University and National League Rugby to become one of the Gallagher Premiership and England’s shining stars in the space of a season is an incredible achievement. I can’t wait to follow his career at Exeter Chiefs.

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“Then taking Northampton Saints from the play-off positions to top of the league makes Phil Dowson the obvious choice for director of rugby of the season.

"On top of that, he has improved a young batch of English talent to become stars of Premiership Rugby and then England regulars, which is testament to the outstanding job Phil is doing in Northampton.

“Premiership Rugby try of the season must have been a tough task for the panel with a host of stunning tries to choose from. Saying that, the image of Tyrone Green’s ‘Superman’ dive will stay in the memory of Premiership fans for years to come and was one of the defining images of the season.

"A try my kids will never forget, having been there that day at Harlequins - an exhibition of extreme skill like that remind us of the talent we have in the Gallagher Premiership.

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“I was very impressed by some of the terrific work being done in the community, too. Andy Christie’s efforts with the Sporting Roots project stood out amongst an impressive shortlist.

“We shouldn’t forget our top points scorer and top try scorer. As well as Gallagher player of the season, Henry Slade is the top points scorer with five tries added to 127 points from the tee.

"Saints’ Ollie Sleightholme was five clear of the competition in the try scorer stakes with 14. Surely on the radar of England, the winger was another star of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.

“Last but not least, Wayne Barnes, who we awarded a special recognition award for a fine career Premiership Rugby - a true legend in our game amongst a stellar line-up of superb players and coaches."

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