David Ribbans stole the headlines at Northampton Saints’ End of Season Awards this evening, with the towering lock scooping both the Carlsberg Players’ Player and Travis Perkins Supporters’ Player of the Season gongs at Franklin’s Gardens.
The 25-year-old second row joins a distinguished list of players to have won both awards during the same season at the Club, including the likes of Louis Picamoles, Cobus Reinach, Rob Horne, Teimana Harrison and Samu Manoa.
Ribbans scored three tries in his 17 appearances in Northampton’s engine room this term, and his abrasive carrying, superb defensive work, and control of Saints’ lineout was what won him the plaudits of his teammates and the Club’s loyal supporters alike – with over 1,000 people casting their vote.
“I’m quite in shock to be honest, I can’t really put into words how big this honour is for me,” said Ribbans. “To achieve the votes from my peers for the second season running is an amazing feeling.
“Saints has become a really special place for me. I’ve been here a few years now, and this is an incredible group. I’ve just tried to work hard on the field and staying injury free has obviously helped this year too.
“To have the supporters back these last two games has been incredible; I’ve said many times before that we have the best fans in the country, so to have them pick me out for this award is very special – I feel very much a part of the Saints family and this town.”
The 2020/21 End of Season Awards – presented by GRS and supported by Wentworth Alexander and Omnia Contracts – saw Saints roll out the red carpet for 200 people to safely attend a socially-distanced, black-tie dinner in the Rodber Suite at Franklin’s Gardens.
It was a night to remember for 20-year-old full-back Tommy Freeman, who capped off an outstanding year by scooping the Robinson Manufacturing Breakthrough Player of the Season prize.
Freeman said: “I’ve loved getting out with the boys over the last few months, so I’m delighted to receive this award and I can’t wait to rip in again next season.
“Getting my opportunity was fantastic and the transition between the Academy and first-team set-up was pretty seamless so I need to thank the coaches for their part in that.”Tommy Freeman
“I was a little surprised to get as many games as I did under my belt. Obviously when you go out to play, you just want to impress the coaches, but getting this award voted for by our supporters feels like an incredible bonus so I'm very grateful to them too.”
Meanwhile wing Ollie Sleightholme also celebrated a double success, as the speedster claimed both the MPA Try of the Season (for his effort in the Challenge Cup Round of 16 against Dragons) and Ewing Associates Young Player of the Season awards.
“It’s been a really, really enjoyable season for me. To be honest I’ve loved every minute I’ve been out on the pitch,” he said.
“I’d like to thank everyone who voted as these awards really do mean so much to me, coming from the supporters. I just need to keep my head down off the back of this, and keep digging in to give my best for the team.
“Having the supporters back these last couple of weeks was amazing, and even when they haven’t been inside the Gardens, all the backing we’ve had from them has been so important for the squad.”
Several players also reached significant milestones during the 2020/21 season for making 50, 100 and 300 appearances for Northampton Saints, and were awarded their Club caps following the Gallagher Premiership match against Exeter on Sunday afternoon.
Northampton Saints 2020/21 End of Season Award winners
Carlsberg Players’ Player of the Season: David Ribbans
Travis Perkins Supporters’ Player of the Season: David Ribbans
Ewing Associates Young Player of the Season: Ollie Sleightholme
MPA Try of the Season: Ollie Sleightholme (European Challenge Cup Ro16 vs Dragons)
Robinson Manufacturing Breakthrough Player of the Season: Tommy Freeman