St Leonards Cinque Ports RFC held its annual awards dinner at the Sussex Exchange on Saturday night celebrating a season where they had finished fifth after promotion to Sussex Division 3.
Forty players, partners and family members were present to see a number of key awards being presented.
Chairman Paul Smart spoke about the development of the club, identifying a number of key wins over the 2nd XV of some established Sussex 1 sides. He also thanked the support of Hastings & Bexhill RFC and the families and supporters of the club.
Team manager Gavin Thomas thanked the commitment of the players, identifying that ‘Ports had not failed to fulfil a league game in 11 years. He also thanked the support of the families.
The first presentation was made by Paul to veteran hooker Mark Wright, he collected a crystal tankard for his recent 200th appearance for the club. Gavin then presented captain Murray Warman the award for top try scorer for his haul of 21 tries. Warman also won the top points scorer award too.
Gavin introduced the shortlist of three nominees for Most Improved Player; scrum-half Steve Hall, and second rows Ashley Mountain and Josh Storey. Hall claiming the prize after a breakthrough season.
Paul then presented the award for Best Young Player. A shortlist of flankers George Upton and Charlie Meredith and outside half Henry Hill saw Upton win the award for a third successive year.
Itv was back to Gavin who then presented a Community award to 11-year-old Jack Whyte for his photographs of game action which had been published in the press and social media all season. His dad Colin Whyte collected the award on his behalf. A second community award went to Mel Upton, Linzi Mountain, Jessica Standen and Tara Dove for their work in providing childcare and support throughout the season for a team with an increasing amount of young children. Paul identified that their support had allowed a number of players far more regular games.
Paul and Gavin then introduced the shortlist for the players player: Hall was nominated for a steady season at the base of the scrum; Mountain for his hard running physical style and Warman was recognised for his explosive scoring and game-breaking style; Upton got the nod for his immense work-rate and breakdown game, Meredith joining his fellow flanker for his willingness to make tackles and unseen work at the ruck. They were joined by powerhouse prop Tom Monks who anchored a powerful scrum and explosive back-rower Tom Ingram who emerged as a leader on and off the field.
Upton, for a second successive year, collected the third place award and Mountain claimed runner-up only two and half years after taking up the game. Ingram then claimed the top prize, on crutches after an injury in the final game. Ingram deservedly picking up the award after a haul of ten tries in 19 games from the back row.