Rugby-Lawes wins Rugby Writers' top award

rugby-lawes wins rugby writers' top award

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - European Champions Cup - Northampton Saints v Munster - Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, Britain - April 7, 2024 Northampton Saints' Courtney Lawes celebrates after the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - Northampton and England forward Courtney Lawes was voted the country's outstanding rugby personality of 2023-2024 by the Rugby Union Writers' Club on Thursday.

Lawes is the latest recipient of the coveted Pat Marshall trophy and becomes the first England men’s player to win the award since Owen Farrell in 2017.

The 35-year-old was the runaway winner with 32% of the vote, ahead of referee Wayne Barnes and double World Cup-winning South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber.

Former England captain Lawes won his 100th cap in August 2023 before playing a leading role in the side’s run to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals and eventual third-placed finish.

Lawes, who has played lock and flanker, retired from international rugby after a 14-year England career following the tournament in France, but has continued to excel for Premiership table-toppers Northampton.

He has been nominated for Premiership player of the year and EPCR Champions Cup player of the year.

"It’s a massive honour to receive this prestigious award,” Lawes said. "The names on the trophy speak for themselves. I’m incredible humbled and thankful and I’m glad the writers have enjoyed my career."

Lawes will leave Northampton, who are in the Premiership semi-finals, at the end of this campaign to join French side Brive after 17 seasons at Franklin's Gardens.

"With Courtney leaving English rugby in the coming months it feels a fitting time to honour one of England’s greatest forwards,” said the BBC’s Chris Jones, Chairman of the Rugby Union Writers’ Club.

The Pat Marshall trophy has been awarded since 1976, with Wales's Mervyn Davies its first recipient.

Recent winners include England’s most-capped player Sarah Hunter in 2022, France’s Antoine Dupont in 2021, Exeter’s double-winning head coach Rob Baxter in 2020, and South Africa’s World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi in 2019.

Lawes received the award at the Rugby Union Writers' Club's annual lunch in London on Thursday.

Also honoured at the event was the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions doctor James Robson, who was awarded the Investec Special Award for special achievement.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ken Ferris)

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