Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani was named English Premiership player of the season on Wednesday, becoming just the second player after Jimmy Gopperth to land the prestigious prize in the same year as winning the Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Year title.
The 31-year-old has played a key role in Gloucester’s qualification for the Premiership play-offs – they face Saracens on Saturday in their first appearance in the semifinals since 2011.
“I’m so proud of him – it’s always a big thing when a player joins a club and there’s a bit of pressure on you to perform,” Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said.
“I can only speak highly of Danny’s commitment to the team. He’s set up into the culture and he’s open. We have a good relationship where we’re open with each other and of course he’s made a serious impact on the field.
“He’s probably got the best skill I’ve seen from a fly-half from an attacking point of view, he can kick well and he’s extremely fast. He knows what he wants in attack and his distribution is top class.”
Cipriani came on top in a shortlist that also featured Exeter’s Henry Slade and Santiago Cordero, Sale scrum-half Faf de Klerk and Northampton half-back Cobus Reinach.
For all his dazzling form and assured game management in a season marred by injury, Cipriani has been unable to reclaim his England place.
England boss Eddie Jones will face renewed calls to explain why Cipriani has been frozen out in favour of Owen Farrell and George Ford.
The last of Cipriani’s 16 caps came in the victory over South Africa in Cape Town last June.
Saracens’ Mark McCall was named director of rugby for the season after winning their third European title and finishing the regular Premiership season in second place.