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Bristol favourite Radradra heads 5-strong European player of the year award shortlist

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Fijian favourite Semi Radradra is going head to head with Scottish duo Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, England’s Sam Simmonds and Virimi Vakatawa of France after Bristol Bears, Racing 92 and Exeter were all represented on the shortlist for the 2020 EPCR European player of the year award.

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Fifteen initial nominees were trimmed to five based on the combined verdict of a panel of rugby experts and a public vote, and the final five includes four players whose performances were vital in taking their clubs through to the Heineken Champions Cup final at Ashton Gate next month. 

Exeter are represented by Simmonds, the leading try scorer in this season’s tournament, as well as Hogg, whose Scotland colleague Russell makes it onto the list for Racing alongside his clubmate Vakatawa. The Top 14 club are looking for a second accolade in three years as Leone Nakarawa, their former second row, won in 2018.

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Former All Blacks back row Jerome Kaino talks about Cheslin Kolbe, his Toulouse teammate

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Former All Blacks back row Jerome Kaino talks about Cheslin Kolbe, his Toulouse teammate

The selection of Radradra, meanwhile, comes on the back of a stellar series of performances in the European Challenge Cup, initially for Bordeaux during the pool stage and more recently for finalists Bristol. His presence on the shortlist is unusual in the sense that players in the Challenge Cup don’t often get this type of recognition.

Voting has now reopened on epcrugby.com/epoty and the winner and recipient of the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final in Bristol on October 17.

EPCR European Player of the Year shortlist

STUART HOGG (Exeter Chiefs)
SEMI RADRADRA (Bristol Bears/Bordeaux)
FINN RUSSELL (Racing 92)
SAM SIMMONDS (Exeter Chiefs)
VIRIMI VAKATAWA (Racing 92)

Judging panel

Erik Bonneval (beIN SPORTS), Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Sonja McLaughlan (BBC Radio 5 Live), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media), Dimitri Yachvili (France Télévisions)

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Roll of Honour

2019: Alex Goode (Saracens)
2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing)
2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens)
2015: Nick Abendanon (Clermont)
2014: Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
2013: Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster)
2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster – best player of first 15 years of European club rugby)

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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